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James Loiis Petigru 


"vVw article of ornament in the furniture of BadwelV 










For Sale by 


Washington, D. C. 




Copyright, 1920 


James Petigru Carson 

Press of 

H. L. & J. B. McQueen, Inc 

Washington, D. C. 

JAN "3 1S2J 









"I remember your saying that South Carolina was the 
romantic and picturesque element in our great Confederacy," 
wrote Miss Sally S. Hampton from "The Woodlands" to her 
friend Mr. Ruggles, on January 25, 1861.* 

The political and social structure of the State was not only 
picturesque but singular. Here was a commonwealth which 
came into existence before the Revolution, rose to its height in 
the first quarter of the next century, continued to live with 
varying degrees of vigor for two generations longer and then 
died a violent death. It all happened in a period of about one 
hundred years — from 1761, say, to 1861. The date of the begin- 
ning is indefinite, but the date of the end is fixed. No other 
American State presents a study so compact. Here was a State 
in undisputed control of a recognized upper class; here was a 
republic in which a small group of superior men were the gov- 
ernors; here was a society dominated by aristocrats. The 
elements which made South Carolina existed in other States, 
ncxtably in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, but they did 
not pervade those States as completely as they pervaded South 
Carolina. James Henry Hammond, Governor and Senator, an 
able man of unusual mental frankness, in the confidence of his 
private diary wrote this on December 7, 1850: » 

The government of South Carolina is that of an aristocracy. 
When a Colony, many families arose in the Low Country who 
became very rich and were highly educated. They were real 
noblemen and ruled the Colony and the State — the latter entirely 
until about thirty years ago, and to a very great extent to the 
present moment. 

When Hammond spoke of the education of his sons, August 
25, 1858, he said: "I have worked like ten overseers and made 
every sacrifice to make my sons well educated and wellbred, 
independent South Carolina country gentlemen, the nearest to 
noblemen of any possible class in America."! 

*Library of Congress MSS. "Personal Miscellany." 

fTo his brother M. C. M. Hammond. Library of Congress MSS. "Ham- 
mond Papers." 


VI Introduction 

The men who made the State being countrymen with large 
holdings of land, led isolated lives and encountered little 
opposition in their inclinations. Consequently, they developed 
unrestrainedly and naturally and their faults and virtues were 
accentuated. They had many primitive characteristics. Open- 
hearted, open-handed, generous, loyal, brave and affectionate, 
they were, at the same time, impulsive, improvident, intolerant, 
quick-tempered and passionate. They were genuine men, with- 
out cant, pretense or affectation. Their superior position was 
so undisputed that no assumption on their part was required to 
support it. 

Broad-minded men liked them, even if they did not approve 
of them, and timid men, who hesitated to form convictions or to 
express them, feared these self-centered masters who asserted 
their beliefs with boldness and absolute conviction that they 
were right. Their strength of conviction on political questions 
came partly from the fact that the chief political issues of their 
day were questions which affected each one of them in his home 
and family life. Thus they took the lead naturally in the move- 
ment to destroy a nation which, it was plain, was making up its 
mind to destroy them. fMore than any other Americans they 
suffered from the failure to establish a new nation based upon 
their social system, for no other State was founded so absolutely 
upon that system.,, 

Their power in the nation had been out of proportion to the 
size and commercial importance of the State. It was not a large 
State; it was not populous; many other States surpassed it in 
wealth; yet from the beginning of the Union it wielded as much 
influence alone as any group of States exercised together. It 
commanded the Constitutional Convention to guarantee slave 
property and the Convention obeyed; it ordered a halt in the 
progress of the protective tariff system and Congress changed the 
tariff law; it ordered the other Southern States to form a 
separate nation and they tried to form it. Just before the Civil 
War, Jeremiah S. Black, Secretary of State, had a conversation 
with William Henry Trescot, his Assistant Secretary, on the 
subject of fortifying Forts Moultrie and Sumter. "Then the 
Judge broke out," says Trescot, "into an eulogy of South 
Carolina. 'There,' said he, 'a little State no bigger than the 
palm of my hand, has broken up this mighty Empire. Like 

James Louis Petigru vii 

Athens, you control Greece. You have made and you will 
control this revolution by your indomitable spirit. Up to this 
time you have played your part with great wisdom — unequalled 
—but now you are going wrong. ' "* 

A State which was so powerful must have been led by able men. 
It is true that, as a consequence of its self-sufficiency, some of 
the strongest intellects were satisfied to expend themselves 
within the boundaries of the State and were not generally known 
elsewhere; but any one who went to South Carolina soon became 
aware of the fact that he was breathing an intellectual atmos- 
phere, and that to be the equal of the men whom he met he must 
be well educated and well informed, and must have his mental 
faculties in good training. 

"The South don't care a d — n for Literature or Art," wrote 
William Gilmore Sims, the novelist, to Hammond, f December 
27, 1847; but the remark was not true of South Carolina. She 
tried to build up a civilization and she included literature and 
art among its attributes. She was proud of Sims and of Wash- 
ington AUston, her painter. The State was too small a mar- 
ket to support Sims, but it produced him, and Timrod and Paul 
Hayne, who were true poets. Hugh S. Legare's Southern 
Review was as good as any review of its day and the newspapers 
contained articles which showed that they were written by men 
of cultivation, thought and knowledge. If political writing is 
literature, as I think it is. South Carolina was one of the fore- 
most literary communities of the nation. Calhoun, Grimke, 
Hammond, Harper, R. Y. Hayne, Turnbull, McDuffie and 
Petigru, to take only a few names without deliberation, were 
writers who argued convincingly, analyzed as philosophers, and 
demonstrated an easy familiarity with classical literature, 
ancient and modern. They clothed their thoughts in English 
with which no purist could find fault. 

The city of Charleston was the centering point of South 
Carolina. All that was there was in the country districts and 
smaller towns also, but nowhere else did it flower as luxuriantly 
as it did in Charleston. The testimony of Henry Adams, the 
historian, will suffice on the subject of Charleston society. 

*American Historical Review, XIII, 549. Library of Congress MSS. "Tres- 

cot Papers." 

t" Hammond Papers." 

VIII Introduction 

"The small society of rice and cotton planters at Charleston,' ' 
he says," with their cultivated tastes and hospitable habits, 
delighted in whatever reminded them of European civilization. 
They were travellers, readers and scholars; the society of 
Charleston compared well in refinement with that of any city of 
its size in the world, and English visitors long thought it the 
most agreeable in America.* 

It is true that the aristocrats of South Carolina delighted in 
what reminded them of European civilization, but it must be 
remarked that in many of its aspects their civilization was not 
European. It was, in fact, their own. It was more like that of 
the West Indies than it was like any other, but the upper part 
of the State was a farmer's country quite different from the 
region of the rice plantations, and from the farms came many of 
the strongest and most influential men of the State. Hammond 
spoke of the low country "nobility," but they did not alone 
constitute the aristocratic class, for it was constantly invigor- 
ated by accessions from the up-country and included in it men 
like Hammond, Calhoun and Petigru, all up-countrymen. 
Huguenot descendants were always welcomed into it. Indeed, 
if one strain of ancestry was accorded special consideration it was 
the Huguenot strain. Paradoxical as it may sound, however, 
the aristocratic class was democratic in its foundation and made 
up of various elements of various origin. 

There was great unanimity in the political sentiments of 
South Carolina when it led the South into the Civil War, but it 
had not come until after a furious conflict of opposing ideas 
which had taken place thirty years before Fort Sumter was fired 
on. Before the State forced the Congress of the United States 
to change the tariff law of 1832, there had been a contest 
within its borders which had almost assumed the proportions of 
civil war. The line of division between the opposing parties was 
clearly drawn. On one side were those whose devotion to the 
Union transcended all other political sentiments, and the leader 
of that party was James Louis Petigru. On the other side were 
the men whose country was South Carolina. After a conflict 
which aroused animosities which were never completely allayed, 
the party composed of those who acknowledged no allegiance 

*History of the United States, 1, 149. 

James Louis Petigru ix 

superior to that which they owed to their State triumphed, and 
an Act of Congress was formally declared to be null and void 
within the borders of South Carolina. Thereafter, some of the 
members of the Union party left the State, and some who 
remained, as the years passed, gave up the hopeless struggle 
against the predominating doctrine of State supremacy, sover- 
eignty, fealty and allegiance. By the time the Civil War came 
there were fewer Union men in South Carolina than there were 
in any other Southern State. 

There were a few, however, the remnant of a once powerful 
party, and chief among them was Petigru. 

Although Petigru never held a national office, except for two 
years during Filmore's administration, when he acted as United 
States Attorney at Charleston, and never appeared in national 
political life he was, nevertheless, well known throughout the 
country. No visitor counted a visit to Charleston as complete 
until he had met him. He became an institution of Charles- 
ton. His exalted personal character, his wit and humor, his 
amiable peculiarities, his impressive personal appearance com- 
bined with his wisdom and broad humanity to make him a 
marked man, one who was sought after, listened to and 
quoted. The American bar looked upon him as one of its 
giants. If a single one of his characteristics must be named as 
predominant, it was his love of justice. He loved the law as 
the instrument of justice. If a single one of his political beliefs 
must be given, it was his conviction that the American Consti- 
tution was the greatest plan of government ever devised. His 
belief in the rights of the individual man and freedom of con- 
scientious opinion was so strong that. Unionist as he was, he 
accorded to others the same right of belief that he demanded 
for himself. Several of his relatives were in the Confederate 
service. He would not coerce them from following what they 
believed was their duty, and he would not be coerced in follow- 
ing what he believed was his own duty. 

In estimating Mr. Petigru, the mistake must not be made of 
thinking of him as "a Southern man with Northern principles." 
He was as much of a Southerner as any of his neighbors were. 
There was a time in his life when he regretted that he had not left 
his native State, as some other Union men had done, and gone 
to New York or other Northern city; but if he had done so he 

X Introduction 

would always have been a Carolinian living in another place. 
He was essentially a product of "the romantic and picturesque 
element in our great Confederacy," and had the qualities which 
it produced; but we can hardly censure the tempestuous temper, 
the improvident generosity, and the domineering superiority 
of a man who loved flowers and trees, who always tried to be 
just, whose intellect was the equal of the highest, and whose 
courage, physical, mental and moral, was unconquerable. Peti- 
gru would have denied that he held the sentiments of a Northern 
man. He would have insisted that his sentiments were National 
— were those of Southern men as well as Northern men, were 
those of the Southern statesmen who played a principal part in 
creating the National Government and putting it in operation, 
were the convictions which had prevailed in South Carolina 
itself until the Nullification party triumphed by a bare majority 
in 1832. He would have insisted that it was the State and the 
South which had changed and not himself. 

Inspired to the task by Petigru's daughter, Mrs. Caroline 
Carson, her son, Mr. James Petigru Carson, has gathered to- 
gether in the course of many years of devoted labor a great 
quantity of Petigru's letters, his speeches and a few of his legal 
arguments, and many of them are printed in this volume. 
They develop, as only such papers can, Mr. Petigru's legal and 
political career, and his daily life and habits. They are valu- 
able on that account, but they have additional interest because 
they give an intimate view of the type of men who controlled 
South Carolina when the State wielded so much power in the 

Gaillard Hunt. 


August 20, 1920. 


James Louis Petigru was simply an American, and a patriot 
always devoted to the advancement of the physical and social 
welfare of his native State. For thirty years he was the acknowl- 
edged leader of the bar of South Carolina, when for brilliancy, 
learning and practice it stood among the first in the United 

He was of the school of Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist and 
a Whig. He considered the Constitution as an inspired docu- 
ment, and love of the Union was part of his religion; and from 
his fearless maintenance of his views throughout his life he can 
justly be termed the "Union Man of South Carolina." 

His opposition to the political creed of South Carolina was 
fundamental. During the heated period of Nullification he was 
in bitter opposition to the majority of his fellow-citizens, many 
of whom were his closest and warmest friends. He was really 
the head of the Union party, but after doing most of the labor 
he, with his usual modesty, always put forward one of his friends 
into the first place. 

On none of the questions that afterwards agitated South 
Carolina did he ever share the popular passions. His mind 
rose far above all illusions and neither fear nor favor could in- 
fluence his judgment. No man ever threw himself more unhesi- 
tatingly upon his own sense of right. Serenely abiding the issue, 
he devotedly and fearlessly led the forlorn hope of the Union 
party up to the final outcome of secession and the Civil War. 

Although he well understood the advantages of seeking a home 
north of the Potomac, yet he felt that he never could abandon 
the ties that bound him to his family, friends and the many 
who were dependent upon him. His local attachment was very 
great, but probably there was no State in the Union where his 
political following and influence would not have achieved greater 
results than in South Carolina. 

His affections were peculiarly tender, and during the war the 
Sufferings endured by his neighbors continually wrung his heart. 
His moral and physical courage in avowing his opinions in 


XII Preface 

opposition to a whole State in arms surprised no one who knew 
his contempt for danger and his indifference to popular applause. 
His conduct met a responsive chord among his people, and 
though they differed with him they were proud of him as a fellow- 
Carolinian. It is remarkable that many of his dearest friends 
were among his most bitter political opponents. 

Mr. Petigru never kept a diary and seldom spoke of himself 
or of his early life except when relating some anecdote in which 
other persons figured. It is a loss ever to be deplored that much 
of his early correspondence and a diary kept by his daughter 
Caroline were destroyed by the burning of his house in the fire of 
1861. Many of his manuscript letters, however, were preserved 
by his daughters and others were obtained from various sources. 
Often after a hard day's work, letters were written late at night 
to members of his family without the slightest suspicion that 
they would ever be published which show the great facility of his 
style and depth of the outpourings of his heart. 

Mr. Edward Everett had contemplated writing a Life of 
Petigru, and he was supplied with such notes and recollections 
as Mrs. Carson could furnish, which, however, were entirely 
inadequate for the purpose. After his death they were returned 
to her and have been freely used in the following pages. 

A tin box containing some of Mr. Petigru's private papers 
was accidentally discovered in a local law office where it had 
lain for some thirty years. The contents of this box proved to 
be a mine of information, and furnished many dates and facts 
which filled up gaps in his career. "Grayson's Memoir" pub- 
lished by Harpers in 1866, and Joseph Blythe Allston's sketch 
of his life and letters, published in The Charleston News and 
Courier in 1900, have been corrected, and freely used wherever 

The letters have been arranged chronologically as far as pos- 
sible, but some of them have been segregated when the subject 
would be more clearly shown. An endeavor has been made to 
present the picture of the man and let him delineate the story 
of his life with his own master hand; but to fill out the back- 
ground of the picture explanatory notes of people and political 
events have been added. 

This many-sided man, although his lot was cast in a limited 
circle and he was ever without place and power, from the pure 

James Louis Petigru xiii 

force of his personal character, the brilliancy of his talents and 
preeminence in his profession earned the admiration and vener- 
ation of the people, not only of his own State but also of the 
whole country. 

James Petigru Carson. 

June 15, 1919. 



Chapter I 
Genealogy 1 

Chapter II 
Jean Louis Gibert, 1722-1773 5 

Chapter III 
The Pastor's Children 14 

Chapter IV 
Childhood; The Farm at Badwell 17 

Chapter V 
School 28 

Chapter VI 
College 33 

Chapter VII 
Teaching School and Reading Law 37 

Chapter VIII 
Social Life at Beaufort 40 

Chapter IX 
Admitted to the Bar; A Soldier 46 

Chapter X 


Commences the Practice of Law 50 

Chapter XI 


His Marriage and Religion 58 

Chapter XII 


Law Practice in Charleston; Law Office and Garden; Cases 62 

Chapter XIII 


Misfortunes; His Sisters, and Social Life 72 


XVI Contents 

Chapter XIV 
Defeated as Union Candidate for State Senator; Work of 
the Union Party 78 

Chapter XV 


The Union Party and Nullification 87 

Chapter XVI 


Repeal of Nullification 115 

Chapter XVII 

March-August, 1834 

Argument Against the Test Oath; Political Situation . . 130 

Chapter XVIII 
August-December, 1834 
Closing Scenes in the Drama of Nullification; Pacification 
Between Nullifiers and Whigs Brought About by Hamilton 
and Petigru 157 

Chapter XIX 
Tribute to Chief Justice Marshall; Visits New York; 
Removes Daughter, Caroline, from School; Death of his 
Brother, Charles; Genealogy; Administration of Plan- 
tation 172 

Chapter XX 
Advice to Legare; Death of his Brother-in-law; Marriages 
of his Sisters; Cholera; Fire in City; Buying Land . . 181 

Chapter XXI 

The Britt Pension and Coolness with Poinsett; Death of his 
Father; Choctaw Country, Mississippi 188 

Chapter XXII 
Mrs. North to Teach School; Fire in Charleston; Governor 
Gilmer of Georgia; Legare 195 

James Louis Petigru xvii 

Chapter XXIII 


Sells Plantation; Economizing; Feet in the Stocks . . . 203 

Chapter XXIV 
Marriage of his Daughter, Caroline, to William A. Carson; 
Dean Hall Plantation, Cooper River 206 

Chapter XXV 


Financial Failure 212 

Chapter XXVI 
The Dowager; Case of Jewell & Jewell; Mr. Legare; 
Marriage of his Daughter, Susan; Lecture to Susan; The 

Schultz Case 224 

Chapter XXVII 
Ball in Honor of Mr. Clay; Election of Governor Aiken; Mr. 

Hoar 238 

Chapter XXVIII 
Mesmerism; Life Mask; White Sulphur Springs; Mr. 
Clay; Philadelphia; New York 241 

Chapter XXIX 
Hospitality; Dress Coat "Destituated"; A Mean Inn; 

Daniel; Mexico 257 

Chapter XXX 
Disgusted with Taylor Democratic Clubs; Stump Speech 
in Abbeville for General Taylor; Bernard Bee; Dines 
with Mr. Calhoun; Flask and Silver Cup; Stump Speech 
for Taylor in "The Range" 265 

Chapter XXXI 
James Johnston Pettigrew Arrived; The New Cabinet; 
Keeping the Peace; Retirement of Mr. Lesesne from the 
Firm 276 

XVIII Contents 

Chapter XXXII 
Calvary Church Riot; Compromise of 1850; Appointed 
U. S. District Attorney; Philadelphia on Law Business; 
South Carolina Legislature; Travels of J. J. Pettigrew . 280 

Chapter XXXIII 


Murder Case at Camden; His Nephew, Phil Porcher . . 287 

Chapter XXXIV 

Crying Speech; White Sulphur Springs; Death of Mr. 
Webster; Calhoun Monument 291 

Chapter XXXV 
Visit to Governor David Johnson; The Kohne Case; "The 
Busy Moments of an Idle Woman " 295 

Chapter XXXVI 
Borrowing Money for Client; Case at Walterboro; Speech at 
Semi-Centennial of South Carolina College; Dinner with 
Governor Manning; Preventing a Duel; The Genus "Rice 

Planter"; Grayson's Poem 298 

Chapter XXXVII 
Argument Before the Supreme Court at Washington; Has a 
Mind to Take up Lecturing; Marriage of Mr. Dorn; 
Captain Thomas Petigru and the Retiring Board . . 313 

Chapter XXXVIII 
Marriage of Miss Elliott; Oration at Erskine College, Due 
West, S. C; Mrs. Petigru at Flat Rock; First President 
of South Carolina Historical Society; Magrath-Taber 

Duel. 317 

Chapter XXXIX 
Defeat in Law Case; Death of Captain Thomas Petigru; 
Completion of Memphis & Charleston Railroad; Failure 
of Banks 321 

'James Louis Petigru xix 

Chapter XL 
Appeal to Susan; Death of Colonel Hampton and Doctor 
Oilman; Visit of Mr. Edward Everett; His Letters; Tren- 
holm; Marietta, Ga.; Defends Blue Ridge Railroad; 
Opposed by Tombs & Cobb 325 

Chapter XLI 
Historical Investigations; James Late; Lecture to Willie; 
South Carolina Railroad Bridge; Revival Stirs Abbe- 
ville Atmosphere 342 

Chapter XLII 
Slavery; Besselleu; Oeorge Broad; Passage to Liberia; 
The Smalley Case; Old Tom; Return of a Miscreant; 
Daddy Lunnon 347 

Chapter XLIII 
Edward Everett; White Sulphur Springs; Working on Code; 
Political; Law about Guns; Miss Cunningham, Mount 
Vernon; Toney Drunk; Political; Secession of South 
Carolina 2>SS 

Chapter XLTV 
January-March, 1861 
Edward Everett; Comments; Governor and Mrs. Pickens; 
Shuffling Buchanan; Davis Becomes President; Elected 
Honorary Member Massachusetts Historical Society; 
Foreseen Defects in the Constitution of the United 
States; No Near Solution of Fort Sumter Entanglement; 
Visit of Lamon and Hurlbut 365 

Chapter XLV 
April-June, 1861 
Fort Sumter; Huguenot Records; Sadness at the Taking of 
Fort Sumter; Lincoln's Policy; Dinner to Dr. W, H.^ 
Russell; Reverdy Johnson; Mrs. Carson Returns to New 
York; Inhabitants of Summerville Shy of him; Rhett, Jr., 
Publishes him as a Monarchist; Card from J.J. Pettigrew 376 

XX Coments 

Chapter XLVI 
July-October, 1861 
Johnston as a Private; Hurlbut a State Prisoner in Defiance 
of Magna Charta; Belief in General Scott; Wishes he Were 
on the Other Side of the Potomac; Fighting will Dispose 
People to be More Civil to One Another; Comments on the 
Battle of Manassas; Afraid Defeat Would Have Cost 
General Scott his Life; The Code; The Well; Doings of the 
Clergy; Efforts on Behalf of Hurlbut 386 

Chapter XLVII 

October, 1861 

Mr. Petigru's Argument Against Sequestration x'\ct . . . 395 

Chapter XLVIII 
October-November, 1861 
Work on the Code; Advice to his Grandson, James; Federal 
Descent on the Seacoast; General Panic, and Abandon- 
ment of the Sea Islands 411 

Chapter XLIX 
December, 1861 
Silver Deposited for Safe-keeping in Commercial Bank of 
Columbia; Its Ultimate Loss; Great Fire in Charleston; 
Burning of his House; Courage and Cheerfulness in 
Adversity; Bank of Charleston Votes a Year's Salary in 
Advance; Re-elected by Legislature Commissioner for 
Digesting and Re-molding the Laws, with the Same 
Salary 418 

Chapter L 
January-April, 1862 
Delivery of Mason and Slidell; about Sending James to 
New York, and his Emigration; Miss Sally Rutledge; 
General R. E. Lee; Letter to Barnwell Rhett; The Right 
to Change a Boy's Domicile; On the W^ar; Letter to J. J. 
Pettigrew; First Dollar to the Cause; J. J. Pettigrew 
Promoted 426 

'James Louis Petigru xxi 

Chapter LI 
April-July, 1862 
Comments on the War; Wishes he had Emigrated Forty 
Years Ago; General Pemberton Determined to Burn the 
City; Rumor of Death of J. J. Pettigrew; Battle of 
Secessionville; Death of his Son-in-law, Henry C. King; 
South Bleeding at Every Pore; Removal to Summerville 440 

Chapter LII 
July-September, 1862 
Comments on McClellan and the War; Work on the Code; 
"Johnston a Genius" 455 

Chapter LIII 
October-December, 1862 
Epoch of his Life; Interpretation of History; Defending a 
Free Negro; Discharge of Elkins Held Contrary to 
Confederate Act; Scarcity of Salt; "The Avenue the 
Only Chance of Going Down to Posterity"; Has not 
Changed his Views; The Code Finished; Message Sent 
Through Lieutenant Didier, H. I. M. Ship Milan . . 458 

Chapter LIV 
January-March, 1863 
Death of Daniel Petigru; Helping the Unfortunate; James 
Goes to Chapel Hill, N. C; Advice to James; More 
Concerned About Health than the Movements of General 
Hunter; His Last Letter, Directions About Trees; 
Closing Days; Letter of Alfred Huger; Preface of Bar 
Association and Correction of Memorial 466 

Chapter LV 
The Epitaph 477 

Index 489 



James Louis Petigru (1845) frontispiece 

Reverend Etienne Gibert facing 8 

White Oak Avenue, Badwell 24 

Ballot, 1832 96 

Book Plate 176 

Seal 180 

Caroline Petigru at Eighteen 184 

Mrs. R. F. Allston 200 

James Louis Petigru (1842) 208 

James Louis Petigru (1861) 376 

J. Johnston Pettigrew 384 






James Louis Petigru was born on the 10th of May, 1789, on 
a farm in the Flatwood Section of Abbeville County, South 

He was named after his two grandfathers, James Pettigrew, 
the Scotch-Irish emigrant, and the Reverend Jean Louis Gibert, 
the Huguenot Pastor of the Desert. 

From his father he derived his love of books, his wit, his quaint 
humor and pathos; from his mother his gravity of mind, un- 
wearied industry, conscientiousness and the martyr spirit in 
which he lived his life. 

According to tradition the Pettigrews originally came from 
France to Scotland about 1648, and went to Ireland about 1660. 

James Pettigrew III, the emigrant, was borne in County Ty- 
rone, Ireland, April, 1713, and died in Abbeville, S. C, Decem- 
ber 24, 1784. At the age of eighteen he left college and eloped 
with Mary Cochran, six months his junior. She was the 
daughter of George Cochran of The Grange. 

After a time James decided to go to the woods of Pennsyl- 
vania to seek his fortune. Leaving the eldest of his four chil- 
dren with her grandmother in Ireland, he and his wife, with a 
daughter and two boys, emigrated to America and landed at 
New Castle in 1740. He had ;^500 in cash and he received 
remittances from Ireland until the Revolution. Though he 
never graduated from college, he had a good classical and gen- 
eral education. In Philadelphia he knew the prominent men 
of the day. Dr. Franklin among others, and that shrewd observer 

2 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

advised him to study medicine. Having the restless spirit of 
a wanderer and speculator, he disregarded this advice. 

He obtained a tract of 300 acres of land on Marsh Creek, near 
Chambersburg,Pa. Here his fifth child, Charles, was born March 
20, 1744. It is said that he became very religious and allowed 
no cooking in the house on Sunday, a circumstance to which he 
owed his life, for on a Sunday hostile Indians came in his direction 
and seeing no smoke coming from his chimneys concluded that 
the house was unoccupied. In recognition of this providential 
intervention he afterwards called one of his sons Ebenezer. He 
sent to Ireland for his eldest daughter but she died on the voy- 
age over. He succeeded in getting his farm well settled but it 
was broken up by the war, and after Braddock's defeat in 1755 
he sold his land for ^80. He then moved to Lunenburg County, 
Va., where he hired some land and remained three years. His 
son William, the thirteenth child, was born here January 26, 

He then moved to Granville County, N. C, where he remained 
for ten years. While there his third son, Charles, went to 
Edenton, N. C, to teach school. Charles afterwards became 
the first Episcopal Bishop of North Carolina. Hearing favor- 
able accounts of the land in South Carolina, James Pettigrew 
sold his North Carolina land in October, 1768. After three 
weeks' travel he reached Long Cane River about seven miles 
from Abbeville Courthouse. Here with the spirit of the specu- 
lator he had a large tract of land surveyed by Colonel Gaillard 
and his son Henry for the purpose of obtaining a grant from the 
Crown. This land was claimed by a man called Salvadore, 
whose agent interfered, and to avoid a law suit the land was 
abandoned. It was for years afterwards known as "Jews Land." 
James Pettigrew remained in this section for four years. In 
1773 he bought a farm in what is known as the Flat Section of 
Abbeville District, situated on Little River, an affluent of the 
Savannah River, about ten miles distant. The land being fertile 
he made good crops, his cattle increased and he was becoming 
very prosperous. In 1776 there occurred an outbreak of the 
Cherokee Indians, and those who escaped massacre were forced 
to seek safety at the Huguenot Fort of James Noble, which was 
commanded by Patrick Calhoun, the father of John Caldwell 
Calhoun. In a short time they returned home and enjoyed 

James Louis Petigru 3 

tranquility until 1779. Two of his sons entered the patriot army, 
one of whom, James, was killed at the Siege of Savannah. Later 
the two younger daughters died at the age of twenty-three and 
twenty-five years, leaving the old people with only the youngest 
son, William. 

After the fall of Charleston the life of no man was safe. The 
country was infested with rascally "bush-whackers" of both the 
Whig and Tory parties. 

James Pettigrew was a strong Whig, somewhat skilled in medi- 
cine, and, there being few practitioners in the country, when- 
ever called upon he gave help impartially to both Whig and Tory, 
for which reason he was little disturbed. A few years later, 
about the middle of December, he went to "a sacramental occa- 
sion" at Pickens' Meeting House, where Abbeville Courthouse 
now stands. There he remained all night. The weather was 
very cold and the bed-clothes insufficient so he took a violent 
cold. On Sunday night, after the meeting, he rode home twelve 
miles; pneumonia soon developed. He was sensible of his ap- 
proaching dissolution and comforted his wife with his assurances 
of a happy immortality. He died December 24, 1784, at the 
age of seventy-one. His wife survived him two years, and 
died October 7, 1786, aged seventy-three. They were married 
in 1731 and produced the good patriarchal number of thirteen 
children, of whom six girls and six boys came to maturity. 

W^illiam Pettigrew was born in Lunenburg County, Va., Feb- 
ruary 26, 1758, and died at Badwell, Abbeville County, S. C, 
January 23, 1837. 

He was the youngest of the thirteen children and was born 
when his parents were forty-five years old. He inherited his 
father's farm at the Flat Woods. At the Indian outbreak of 
1776 he served with various expeditions which extended into 
the Creek and Cherokee country from the Ocmulgee River to 
the Coosa River in Georgia. In the Revolutionary War he im- 
mediately went to the front. Under Colonel Pickens he was 
in the action at McGowan's Blockhouse in Wilkes County, Ga., 
eight miles above Cherokee Ford on the Savannah River. 

The command of William Pettigrew joined General Lincoln in 
Georgia and after the defeat at Stono Ferry, June 20, 1779, 
were discharged and returned home. After the fall of Charles- 
ton, May, 1780, Colonel Pickens assembled his regiment and 

4 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

they surrendered their arms to the Tory Colonel Richard Paris. 
In accordance with the conciliatory and cunning policy of Corn- 
wallis they were allowed to take "British protection" and re- 
turn home. But when General Greene besieged Ninety-six in 
1781, then held by the Tory Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger of New 
York, like all good patriots William Pettigrew was among the 
first to join Pickens and remained till the close of the war. He 
received a wound in action for which he drew a pension. 

'James Louis Petigru 

Jean Louis Gibert 


The maternal grandfather of James Louis Petigru was the 
Reverend Jean Louis Gibert, pastor at New Bordeaux, the third 
and last of the French Protestant settlements in South Carolina.* 

Situated in the foothills of the Cevennes Mountains, fifteen 
kilometers from the town of d'Alais, in the Province of Lan- 
guedoc, is the village of Lunes. Here the Gibert family had 
owned and occupied a small but comfortable house for two hun- 
dred and sixty years. They belonged to that strong race of 
mountaineers who after the Revocation of Nantes were in re- 
bellion against the government of the great King. 

Pierre Gibert and his wife Louise Guy had three sons. Pierre 
the eldest, whose son Pierre was the progenitor of those of the 
name now living in South Carolina; Jean Louis Gibert born 
29th of June, 1722, and Etienne born 2d September, 1736; the 
last two being known as the "Pastors of the Desert." 

Jean Louis was imbued with piety from an early age. In 
1746 he entered the Seminary at Lausanne, and after three years' 
study he was ordained and assigned to the parish of San Martin 
du Bouboux. He had black hair and gray eyes, classical feat- 
ures and an attractive and determined expression; he was of 
medium height, well built, strong and active. He was naturally 
a man of action — a leader of men — and had he not been endowed 
with the spirit of an evangelist he probably would have been a 

In 1750 he plunged into the work of his pastorate with irre- 
sistible courage and zeal, and his duties were continually ex- 
tended. Traditionf tells how he would sometimes appear dis- 

*Recherches Historiques sur les deux Freres Jean Louis Gibert et Etienne 
Gibert, Pasteurs en Saintonge, par A. Crottet, Pasteur, Yverdon, Canton du 
Vaud, Suisse. 1860. Les Freres Gibert Deux Pasteurs du desert et du refuge 
(1722-1817) par Daniel Benoit, Pasteur. Toulouse, 1889. 
fSee Benoit, page 56, and Appendix. 

6 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

guised as a countryman or shepherd, assemble his flock at night 
in some secluded spot (in French "the Desert") and preach, 
baptise and administer the sacrament. These assemblies often 
numbered four to five thousand people. They were frequently 
dispersed by the soldiers, but this seemed merely to increase his 
resolve and a few days afterward he would hold another meeting. 

In 1755 Jean Louis Gibert with his brother Etienne, who for 
two years had accompanied him as secretary and a companion, 
escaped a trap set for them at Pons. Of two other companions 
one was killed and one captured by the soldiers. In the saddles 
of these men were Gibert's records and papers, and in conse- 
quence, by proclamation, he and his brother were condemned 
and a price put upon their heads dead or alive. Jean Louis was 
sentenced to make an act of abjuration, to be hanged, gibbeted 
and his body thrown into the offal ditch. Etienne was sen- 
tenced to be branded on the right shoulder with the letters 
GAL and sent to the galleys for life. He escaped to Lausanne, 
where for three years he pursued his studies at the seminary. 

Jean Louis continued his work, and with the presence of mind 
and nerve of a trained scout managed to escape the traps and 
stratagems to capture him. 

When dealing with his flock he was a strict disciplinarian, in- 
sisting on temperance and that on Sundays they should abstain 
from work and amusements and devote themselves to prayers 
and meditation. He insisted that children should be baptised 
regardless of the fear of persecution. To a man fearing to have 
his child baptised by the Pastor the latter told him that he 
"would be damned by all the devils and hell would be his por- 
tion." The man, however, had the child baptised by the priest. 
When Gibert was informed of the fact the man was immediately 
excommunicated. The Bishop suggested a modification of the 
treatment of his parishioners, but he, understanding his people, 
continued with firmness that brought forth fruit. 

In 1755, when there was a relative calm in the persecution, 
believing that large assemblies in the woods were exposed to the 
inclemency of the weather and easy detection by the soldiers, 
the Pastor decided that they should gather in smaller groups, 
and he had constructed as churches, small unpretentious build- 
ings which if destroyed could easily be replaced. Each was 
provided with an altar and benches for about two hundred 

James Louis Petigru 7 

people. The services were very simple. The garb of the 
preacher was a square black cap, a long straight coat and a blue 
silk collar. 

Persecution was renewed. The churches were used as bar- 
racks for the soldiers, were either torn down or burned. 

In 1760 Gibert was elected president or Moderator of the 
Provincial Synod of the churches of Saintonge, Angumois, Peri- 
gord and Bordelais, and in spite of persecution the converts in- 
creased till they numbered about sixty thousand. 

After ten years of unequal struggle he decided to obtain from 
the government of England authority to conduct a colony to 
America, and provided with suitable testimonials he arrived 
in England in April, 1761. He wrote to Stecker, Archbishop 
of Canterbury, and explained that the object of his mission was 
to carry a certain number of his people to America for the pur- 
pose "of cultivating the vine and raising silk," asking also that 
the English King should intervene with King Louis XV so that 
these Protestants with their wives and children might be allowed 
to leave France. The Archbishop submitted the letter to Pitt 
and other ministers and it was eventually conveyed to King 
George III, and met with his approval. 

Gibert returned to France and after a delay of two years ob- 
tained from the Synod permission to withdraw from his duties 
and leave the country. In the month of March, 1763, he ar- 
rived in London and announced the coming of the emigrants. 
Though they had been promised a welcome no arrangements 
had been made for their reception. Archbishop Stecker again 
came to his assistance and through his influence King George 
contributed a thousand pounds for the benefit of the emigrants. 
To avoid observation they came in small groups and were as- 
sembled at Plymouth on the 25th of August. 

Unfortunately there was a long delay; consequently, many 
renounced the projected expedition to America and remained 
in England. However, through the efforts of Gibert and his 
colleague, Pierre Boutiton, on the 25th December, 1763, the 
last emigration of Huguenots to America began to embark at 
Plymouth on the ship Friendship* Captain George Perkins, 
bound for Charleston, S. C. 

*Letter to J. L. Petigru, January 10, 1859, from W. N. Saiiisbury, 29 Cambridge 
Street, Eccleston Square, London, S. W. 

8 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

While waiting for a fair wind the emigrants found the food 
bad and some violent language was exchanged between them 
and the captain; for this, according to the pious chronicler, they 
incurred the wrath of God and were severely punished. On the 
2d of January, 1764, they attempted to raise the anchor but 
failed, and not until the 11th did they set sail. On entering 
the channel they encountered a violent storm. With difficulty 
they were saved from shipwreck, and wet, cold and dejected 
they reached Torbay, twelve miles farther from Charleston than 
they were when they started. They returned to Plymouth 
and on the 22d of February, with a favorable wind, they again 
set sail for America. 

After a monotonous voyage of forty-seven days they arrived 
in Charleston on the 15th of April, 1764. They were sheltered 
in barracks and food provided for them by the descendants of 
their bourgeois compatriots, many of whom were from the same 
province in France and had come to America immediately after 
the Revocation edict of 1686. 

On the 18th of April, 1764, they received from Governor 
Thomas Boone and Lieutenant-Governor William Bull a grant 
of ten square miles of land for which they were to pay yearly 
a penny an acre, which sum was paid until the Revolution. 

They selected a section in Abbeville County, then known as 
the District of Ninety-six. This was on the banks of Little 
River, twelve miles above its confluence with the Savannah. 

On the 12th of October the colonists started from Charleston, 
and after much difficulty, on the 14th of November, reached 
their destination, about one hundred and fifty miles distant. 
Immediately on their arrival on the right bank of the Little 
River they cleared a space for a town which they called New 
Bordeaux in remembrance of the capital of Guyenne, from which 
place many of them had come. In the center of the town was 
erected a large building for a storehouse and town hall. Houses 
were built, and as a protection against the Indians a fort, called 
Fort Bonne, the remains of which still exist on the lands of Mr. 
Albert Gibert. To each adult was assigned a half-acre lot 
within the town for the immediate cultivation of beans and 
corn. Outside the town limits four acres of land for the culti- 
vation of the vine and silk was granted, and in addition a bonus 
of one hundred acres. 

Reverend Etienne Gibert 


{Facing S) 

James Louis Petigrii 9 

By June, 1765, they had finished planting corn and beans 
on the land assigned them. 

At first they suffered the usual hardships of pioneers, but 
after the second year they produced all that was necessary for 
the support of their families. 

The vine and silk were cultivated, but the productive crops 
were tobacco, corn, hemp and indigo; and after seven years of 
hard work the colony was in a most prosperous condition. 

The Pastor devoted himself to the spiritual and temporal 
progress of the country. He taught the school and conducted 
the church under the Presbyterian form, and the greatest care 
was given to the registers of marriages and baptisms. 

Before sailing for America the Pastor had married the sister 
of his colleague, Pierre Boutiton.* According to family tra- 
dition her given name was Isabeau and Mr. Petigru uses this 
name in the epitaph of her son, Joseph Gibert. On the passen- 
ger list of the ship Friendship, dated January 2, 1764, we find: 

" 1. Mons. Jean Louis Gibert, age 41, Pastor; 
2. Mad. Jeanne Boutiton, son epouse, age 21." 

The register of the French Calvinist Church of Charleston 


"Louise Le Dimanche 11 Octobre jai 
batise Louise fille de Mr. Jean 
Louis Gibert & de Md Jeanne 
Boutiton son epouse 
qui I'ont presentie au St. Bateme. 
Nee le 14th Septembre." 

*Among the passengers were Jaques Boutiton and his wife and a young son, also 
called Pierre. Jaques returned to France. The Reverend Pierre Boutiton, 
who was 26 years old when he came to the colony, died before the war of Inde- 
pendence. Pierre, the younger son, married a widow with several children, 
and died after the American Revolution, leaving one daughter. Marguerite 
Boutiton, who died in Christ Church Parish, in 1859, at an extreme old age, 
leaving all she was worth to her grandniece, Armarinthia Screven Stuart, 
daughter of William Stuart, merchant, of Liverpool. Investigations which Mr. 
Petigru had made in France show that during the seventeenth century the 
Boutitons and Giberts had intermarried. 

10 Life-, Letters and Speeches 

She may be entitled to both names. But httle is known about 
her, but we can infer that she was a lady of practical tastes from 
the fact that she brought with her from France a wafer iron 
marked with the initials "I. B." This wafer iron is still pre- 
served, and occasionally used at Badwell. 

The Pastor located his home one mile east of New Bordeaux, 
selecting the end of a ridge overlooking the valley of Buffalo 
Creek. He built a comfortable house in which were stored a 
classical library and various papers relating to his work in 
France, and also the records of the colony. Unfortunately, all 
were lost when the house was burned during the war of Inde- 
pendence. After he had succeeded in bringing the colony to a 
prosperous condition he was, at the height of his usefulness, 
suddenly cut off by a stupid accident. His cook, John Le Roy, 
served him at dinner with what he supposed to be mushrooms; 
he was taken violently ill and died a few days afterwards, in 
August, 1773, at the age of fifty-one. It is pathetic that a man 
who had escaped the traps and stratagems of the soldiers of 
Louis XV, and the dangers of shipwreck, should have his career 
ended by the veratria poison of an insignificant toad stool. In 
the family cemetery, contiguous to his house, his grave is marked 
by a square marble monument with inscriptions on the sides, — 
one in Latin, one in French and one in English, by Mr. H. S. 
Legare; on the fourth side the record of his birth, the date of 
which differs from that recorded by Crotet. 

West Side 

The Devoted Huguenots 

Not like other adventurers 

Constrained by poverty to seek 

their fortunes on a distant shore 

but in the true spirit of humble 

and heroic martyrdom 

they plunged into the depths of 

an untrodden wilderness 

to secure that liberty of conscience 

which they could not enjoy in 

their own beautiful land. 


James Louis Petigru 11 

South Side 

Sacred to the Memory 

of the 

Rev. John Louis Gibert 

Born near Alais 

in Languedoc 

22nd July 1722 

Died in August 

1773 ^ 

The sudden death of the Pastor was mourned as a public 
calamity and his parishioners wept for him as for a father. He 
was succeeded by his nephew, Pierre Gibert, the son of his elder 
brother before mentioned, and under him the colony continued 
to prosper until 1777, when it was found that living in the town 
produced fever and the people began to settle in the adjacent 
country. About this time the value of cotton began to be recog- 
nized and it was cultivated with other crops. Being unable to 
wait till the culture of silk and the vine could become profitable 
it was practically abandoned, although continued by a few for 
a generation longer. 

Pierre Gibert had been educated in England by his uncle, 
Etienne, and was brought to the colony by his uncle, Jean Louis. 
He taught school and the colonists are indebted to him for their 
education in English. He was among the first to embrace the 
cause of Independence. In a company of the colonists, Joseph 
Bouchillon was captain and Pierre Gibert the lieutenant. 
They served through the war from the siege of Savannah to the 
siege of Ninety-six. He was a public-spirited citizen and for 
many years represented the district of Abbeville in the General 
Assembly of South Carolina. He contributed largely to the 
founding of the church and Academy at Willington and he 
sought out and secured the services of Dr. Moses Waddell, who 
was the first pastor of the church and made the school celebrated. 
Pierre Gibert died June 20, 1815, aged sixty. He married Eliza- 
beth Bienaimme, and many of their descendants were ministers 
of the gospel. 

Although two hundred and twelve colonists landed in America, 
of the hundred and thirty-eight who settled in Abbeville only 

12 J--{f^-> Letters and Speeches 

about six of the original names remain, — Bouchillon, Covin, 
Gibert, Guillebeaux, Le Roy and Moragne. 

Mr. Petigru's letter of September 4, 1823, to Mons. Gibert 
has interest for us at this point. 


Charleston 4 Septembre 1827. 

Votre lettre du 18 Juin 1826 adressee a M. Pierre Gibert* 
m'est parvenue; et je I'ai renvoye a son fils le medecin Joseph 
Bienaime Gibert a Longcane. Comme il n'est pas certain 
que vous receviez de reponse de lui et que je desire renou- 
veller les relations avec la respectable famille de ma mere je 
prends la liberte de vous scrire. Je suis malheureusement oblige 
de commencer par vous annoncer la mort de votre estimable 
frere. It est mort le 20 Juin 1815. C'estait un homme eclaire, 
vertueux et juste. II jouissait de la confiance de ses concitoyens, 
qu'il a representes plusieurs fois a I'assemblee de la Caroline de 
Sud. Sa veuve est mort le 20 Aout 1818. Trois fils, Pierre, Cle- 
ment et Elie sont mort garcons: les deux premiers avant le pere, 
Etienne, un autre fils est mort en 1823, sa veuve est restee avec 
sept enfans. Jean Louis un autre fils en 1826 sa veuve est 
reste avec six enfans — les deux families sont a peu pres a leuraise. 
La fille puisnee Susane est morte il y a trous ans laissant un 
enfant. Ceux qui ont survecu sont Lucie, veuve Kennedy; 
Marie, epouse de M. Wright, maitre d'ecole; Harriet epouse de 
M. Hemphill, Ministre calviniste; Elizabeth, epouse de M. Lee, 
proprietaire, et Joseph Bienaime, Medecin. Mesdames Ken- 
nedy et Lee sont assez riches. Joseph a des bien considerable, 
les autres sont pauvres. lis demeurent tous en la Caroline du 
Sud — et la plupart a Longcane. 

It faut que je vous disc ce que je suis car mon nom vous est 
probablement inconnu. Je suis petit fils de M. Jean Louis 
Gibert. II a laisse trois enfans et je suis fils de Louise la plus 
agee. Ma chere mere est morte il y'a un an, a I'age de 59 ans. 
Nous somnes neuf enfans 4 garcons et 5 filles. II n'y a pas 
d'autres descendans de mon grandpere. Personne de tous les 
colon qui I'a ont accompagne a Longcane n'a survivre mais 
il y a un nombre considerable de leur descendans. II se sont 
mele avec les autre habitants et ils sont a peu pres perdu I'usage 
de la langue francaise. Trois personnes demeurant a Charleston, 
sont les seul vivant de ceu qui emigre avec mon grandpere. Ce 
sont M. Thomas, M. Sabeau and Mad. Belot. 

*Nephew of the Pastor and first cousin of the mother of Mr. Petigru. 

James Louis Petigru 13 

J'ai toujours eu pour la memoire de mon grandpere la plus 
grande veneration, et pour les parens de ma mere un sentiment 
tres sincere. Je serais tres reconnaissant si vous vouliez me 
donner des renseignements sur I'histoire de la famille et la situ- 
ation dans la quelle elle est a present. Y-a-t-il beaucoup de 
personnes du nom de Gibert? Dans quelle partie de la France 
demeurent-ils.^ Viennent-ils tous a I'eglise reformee? La famille 
fournit-elle a present quelque ministre pour la chaise? M. 
Etienne Gibert de Londres a-t-il laisse des enfans? Et que sont- 
ils ils devenus? 

Sans avoir precisement appris la langue francaise, car ma mere 
ayant epouse un americain ellene parlait que I'anglais dans la 
famille je la lis assez courannment — Je suis avocat et demeure a 
Charleston. Je serais tres oblige a celui de mes parens en France 
qui me serait I'honneur de m'ecrire, et je repondrai toujours avec 
plaisir a vos lettres, si jeupuis vous engager a renouveller la 
correspondence qui a ete si long temps interrompue entre ceux 
de la m^me souche qui sont separe par la mer. 

J'ai I'honneur d'etre 

Votre tres humble serviteur 

M. Elie Gibert ayant direge qu'on lui ecrivit au dessous de 
votre adresse j'ai puis la liberte de vous envoyer I'encloa; et vous 
recevrez les remerciements d'un etranger, de I'expedier a lui, si 
vivant, mais s'il n'est plus, de le remettre a I'aine de la famille. 

14 J^if^i Letters and Speeches 


The Pastor's Children 

The Pastor left three children — Louise Guy, six years old, 
who became the mother of J. L. Petigru; Joseph, two years old, 
who died a bachelor, and Jeanne, who afterwards married 
Thomas Finley, and died about 1795. 

However unfortunate the Pastor's loss may have been to the 
colony it was still more so to his family. The widow, unable to 
contend with her difficulties in the country, removed to Charles- 
ton with her three children. In a year or two she married Pierre 
Engevine. He was born in 1727, at Bordeaux, served his clerkship 
at Rotterdam, and, after wandering over much of Europe and 
America, finally settled as a merchant in Charleston. The wife 
died in 1783, and is said to be buried under the Huguenot church 
in Charleston. 

Pierre Engevine then retired from business and moved to 
Abbeville with the three small children. The Pastor's house 
having been burned during the Revolution, he selected a location 
about one half mile east along the same ridge, a more suitable 
site for a settlement, and at the foot of the hill there was a spring. 
This place is subsequently referred to as " Badwell. " 

The boy, Joseph Gibert, was apprenticed to a saddler by Enge- 
vine; but the lad was proud, sensitive and aspiring, and his spirit 
revolted at what he thought a descent from his father's station 
in life. During his apprenticeship he found time to study medi- 
cine, and at its termination took the degree of M. D. 

To obtain the satisfaction of a gentleman for the inconsiderate 
treatment of Engevine, he challenged him, on his return home, to 
fight a duel with broad swords. The affair was with difficulty 
arranged by the intervention of the neighbors. 

However, he allowed Engevine a home on the property, where 
he died and was buried, and has given his name to one of the 
tributaries of Buffalo Creek. 

Engevine died January 28, 1805, and was buried in the family 
cemetery, near the grave of the Pastor. 

James Louis Petigru 15 

On his tombstone there is inscribed: 

His memory is endeared to the grandchildren of 
his wife by every recollection of the affectionate 
intercourse of childhood with a venerable and cheer- 
ful friend. 

The two girls, Louise Guy and Jeanne Gibert, grew up on the 
farm at Badwell in practical seclusion, with only such education 
and instruction as the affection and care of Mr. Engevine could 

The following description of Louise, the elder, has been pre- 
served and given in Grayson's Memoir: 

A brunette with smooth delicate skin, soft hazel eyes, dark 
brown hair, well rounded figure of medium height, with beauti- 
fully formed arms, hands and feet. She was beloved by all the 
people, and the old surviving Colonists enthusiastically spoke of 
the Pastor's daughter, as being very beautiful and as good as 
she was beautiful. She was profoundly religious and combined 
modesty, dignity and sweetness of temper with a firmness of 
purpose, which commanded both affection and respect. She 
attended to the household affairs and her nature was well fitted 
to the task. 

William Pettigrew lived on his farm fifteen miles distant. He 
possessed many amiable qualities; he was witty, gay, generous 
and social, combining a love Oi horse-racing and sport with a 
love of poetry and books. Without much training he selected 
with intuitive judgment the standard authors of the day, which 
he read for both amusement and instruction. On the other hand 
he was impulsive and reckless, lacked foresight, perseverance and 
the ordinary commercial instincts. 

This charming girl, Louise Gibert, then twenty years old, and 
the lively and impulsive William Pettigrew accidentally met. 
They fell in love, were married in 1788, and went to his farm 
in the Flat Woods on Little River. 

During William Pettigrew's bachelor days there lived with 
him his friend Tom Finley, who owned a neighboring farm. 
The two intimates were entirely dissimilar in character; they 
agreed thoroughly only in the love of books. Finley was cold 
and reserved, fond of disputation and excelling in it; without 
wit or humor, but admiring it in others; not loving money, but 
not regardless of it; skilful enough in his management of affairs, 

16 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

but not too eager in their pursuit. After William Pettigrew's 
marriage Finley continued to be an inmate of the house. Jeanne 
Gibert, Louise's younger sister, was a constant visitor. Finley 
was attracted by her appearance, and, after a short acquaint- 
ance, they were married. Finley's farm was quite near and the 
two households were intimate neighbors. But this happy inter- 
course was of short duration. Mrs. Finley died in 1795, the 
third year after her marriage, leaving her son Louis to her sis- 
ter's care. He entered South Carolina College in the Class of 
1813 and bade fair to obtain its highest honors, when, after a 
short illness in his junior year, he died. He was a youth of most 
brilliant promise and most popular among his classmates, who 
erected over his remains a monument in Elmwood Cemetery 
at Columbia, S. C. 

James Louis Petigru 17 


Childhood; The Farm at Badwell 

The first few years after his marriage, WiUiam Pettigrew led 
a happy, easy-going life, devoting himself to his hunting, fishing 
and horse-racing more than he did to the care of his farm. After 
a time the farm was sold for debt. In 1800 he removed to Bad- 
well, the home of his wife's brother. Dr. Joseph Gibert wel- 
comed his sister and her four small children to the homestead. 
He wished his sister to separate from William, on the ground 
that he could not provide for her wants; but to this she would not 

The virtues of the gentle Joseph Gibert are shown by the fol- 
lowing epitaph on his tombstone at Badwell Cemetery: 

John Joseph Gibert 

Son of 
The Reverend Jean Louis Gibert and Isabeau Boutiton, his wife 
In his third year he lost his father and in his thirteenth his 


These early privations not to be compensated 

Swept away the hopes that dawned on his infancy 

Disappointment also marked the progress of succeeding years 

But from limited resources 

He spared the means to lay the foundation 

for the education of his nephew 

James Louis Petigru 

who in grateful acknowledgment 

of what he owes to such a benefactor 

Places this stone to his memory 

Born on this hill and near it 

died at Badwell, 18th, November 1817 

Aged 46 years. 

William Pettigrew had a select library of English classics, 
among which Dryden and Pope were his favorites. He enjoyed 

18 ^z/^j Letters and Speeches 

without measure every passage of wit and humor that appeared 
in his favorite authors. In teaching his children to enjoy them, 
he made them read to each other, and established a rule in the 
house that one should always read aloud while the rest were at 

French was still as much spoken as English in that section 
of the country. William Pettigrew came home one evening 
tired and moody, to find his wife entertaining an itinerant 
Frenchman. For some time at the chimney-corner he sat 
silent and morose. The stranger at length endeavored to en- 
gage him in conversation with the remark: 

"Mais, Monsieur, vous parle?. Frangais?" 

"No, sir," replied the other, "I speak no French and very 
Httle English." 

On the 10th of May, 1789, at the farm on Little River, James 
Louis Petigru was born, the first of eleven children, nine of 
whom lived to maturity. He was a vigorous and promising boy 
from his birth, the joy of his young parents; and, from the grav- 
ity of his countenance and invariable good humor, his grand- 
father, old Engevine, predicted for him the "high-mark." 

At five years of age, on being taken to church by his aunt, he 
amazed his mother by repeating, the next day, almost the whole 
sermon, word for word. 

It was at the age of six, at the funeral of his aunt, Mrs. Finley, 
that the sensibility and tenderness that marked his nature were 
first strongly manifested. He wept at the scene so long and so 
violently as to attract the notice and concern of all the attend- 
ants, and when the coffin was about to be let down in to the 
grave, he stretched out his arms to prevent it, with passionate 

His friends thought him possessed of great quickness of parts, 
but among the neighbors it was the general opinion that there 
was something queer about the boy. It was his habit to throw 
himself on the grass under a tree with a book and become 
absorbed in his reading. He would walk alone in the woods, 
mutter and talk to himself, a habit which he retained all his life, 
and he became irritated if he was interrupted. Though not 
particularly fond of hunting, he often spoke of being able, with 
a rifle, to hit a squirrel at the top of the highest chestnut tree, and 
with great delight he told how bare-footed he waded the rocky 

James Louis Petigru 19 

bottom of Buffalo Creek, seeking mussels for his grandfather 

He became an omnivorous reader and credited Plutarch's 
Lives with giving him the first impulse towards making of himself 
something more than the ordinary rustic or plowman. 

As a boy James Louis was devoted to his mother, and loved 
her from early life with a deep affection and was her active assis- 
tant in the discharge of her household duties. The cares of a 
large family often kept her up to a late hour at night, and at this 
time he never went to bed until she was ready to go. He mended 
the fire for her, he talked with her, he read to her, he lightened 
her toil by sympathy and all the active aid he could manage to 
give her. His affectionate nature was never weary in its mani- 
festations of devotion and love and the gentle mother fully appre- 
ciated their value. 

He was eleven years of age when the family removed to Bad- 
well. He immediately began to work on the farm to the extent 
of his strength, and from the age of thirteen to fifteen he prac- 
tically conducted all the work. His younger brothers, nine 
and eleven years old, worked with him, but were not always so 
industrious. Finding one of them incorrigible, he administered a 
sound slap, citing the line, "Such brutes and boys are only ruled 
by blows." 

During such intervals as the condition of the crops would al- 
low he went to school. His first teacher was a wandering Vir- 
ginian from whom he learned nothing, and of whom he remem- 
bered little more than the "barrings-out" of the master by his 
pupils. He next went to the school of Charles Touloon, an 
Irishman, who was believed by his scholars to have been a Catho- 
lic priest who had violated his vows by contracting marriage. 
What was more to the purpose, however, Touloon knew Latin 
and mathematics, and his pupil always spoke of him with regard 
and respect. Touloon had been a soldier in the American army 
and died in 1812. His widow engaged Mr. Petigru to recover 
her dowry in land, out of which she alleged her husband had been 
swindled. This was probably one of his first cases. Many 
years after, in a letter written in 1839, he says, "I have not got 
Mrs. Touloon's money yet." 

Badwell occupied a large place in Mr. Petigru's affections 
throughout his entire life. With the first money he earned 

20 Life, Letters and Speeches 

teaching school he built there a house for his mother; there, sub- 
sequently, his sister, Mrs. North, resided, and with various ad- 
ditions it became the general hive of the family. The house was 
on the side of the hill and faced south. On the opposite ridge 
there was a fine grove of native oaks and chestnuts. The view 
down the small valley to the southwest showed some clay hills 
scarred with gullies and in the distance some stunted trees. The 
spot has no charm but to the eye of loving appreciation. Mr. 
Petigru was indefatigable in trying to beautify the place which 
to strangers had no beauty in it. Here he loved to pass his va- 
cations, and when he got on his summer clothes, with most won- 
derful coat cut in continental style, his face showed all the 
happiness of a small boy with his first pair of boots; and he would 
immediately sally forth to the work where he labored with axe, 
pick or shovel. For over twenty-five years his letters show his 
indomitable earnestness and determination to prosecute his im- 
provements in spite of innumerable delays and disappointments. 
It is estimated that his various expenditures on Badwell must 
have been about $2,000 a year. 

The first enterprise of Mr. Petigru at Badwell was the effort to 
obtain good water. According to tradition a divining rod man 
located a favorable spot for a well, which being on the top of the 
hill would require considerable depth. 

In 1837 the well was commenced and after passing through 
fifty-five feet of clay a dike of green stone was reached and a 
moderate quantity of water was obtained. To get lining for 
the well a quarry was opened at considerable expense, but the 
miners reported that the granite was too hard to work; so rock 
was obtained elsewhere. 

In 1849 the water in the well had lost two feet in depth and 
was "neither as good nor as cold as it had been. " For the next 
few years various "experts" worked at the well without success. 
In 1857 Mr. Petigru, by the advice and assistance of his friend 
Major Welton, who had sunk the artesian wells in Charleston, 
obtained all the appliances for sinking an artesian well and an 
experienced operator. This man erected a horse whim derrick 
and installed the plant. After drilling three or four feet the drill 
stuck and was broken off. The following year a second operator 
was procured. After a few weeks his drill also stuck, the screw 
broke, and all efforts to extract it were unavailing. 

James Louis Petigru 21 

To encourage the men at work on the avenue, the well, and 
the various enterprises, Mr. Petigru was accustomed to send up 
each year a barrel of whiskey and a barrel of ale. From bills of 
1858 it is found out that whiskey cost 45 cents a gallon, or $15.75 
a barrel, and a cask of lager beer cost $18.00. These barrels 
were placed in the storehouse. Andrew, the negro foreman, kept 
the key, and was ever ready to both give and take a dram for the 
honor of the place. 

In February, 1861, Petigru wrote: "I fear that our miners are 
going to make a long job of the well. The stone is very hard 
* * * there is no reason to give it up. Nothing must be 
allowed to stop us unless the water threatens to drown the work- 
men by coming so fast. Keep them to the point till they get 
through the rock. Badwell seems like a hard road to travel; the 
soil is stiff, and the rocks not only hard but deep, and water is not 
to be had without much pains and endurance." 

Mr. Petigru's last visit to Badwell was during August and 
September, 1862. 

At this time the well had attained a depth of seventy-one feet. 
The last sixteen feet was driven through hard green stone by the 
German miners. Mr. Petigru was unable to "go to the other 
side of the rock," because it was impossible to obtain powder 
and fuse. Fortunately a stream of good water was struck, and 
after 25 years of struggle the well at last maintained a depth of 
eighteen feet and has done so ever since. 

The spring house, the sun-dial, the white oak avenue and 
the purchase of additional land occupied Petigru's interest up 
to the year of his death. 

From Charleston, July 19, 1842, he writes his sister, Mrs. Jane 
Petigru North: "While your hand is in I advise you to have 
a dairy of stone to take in the old spring." 

A letter dated September 30, 1844, shows that he had con- 
ceived the idea that the spring should be inclosed in a granite 
basin, or what he called a "fountain," and a house erected. On 
September 7, 1850, he writes: "The fountain and the avenue 
I will never resign. I beg you to make no arrangements that 
do not look to them as the great works of the place." The date 
over the door shows "1851." 

June 29, 1852, he writes: "Your last letter gave me real pleas- 
ure. That the fountain is in operation and does not disappoint 

22 ^(/^j Letters and Speeches 

our expectations is something to console one for many disap- 
pointments, and the failure of the acorns and magnolias is not 
a small one." 

On July 24, 1845, he wrote: "It has occurred to me that there 
is a great defect in the absence of a dial in the country. Do 
make Shannon get out a piece of granite about two feet square, 
and at least three feet high above ground. I will get the dial 
while in the North." 

Four years later a plinth of granite, nicely bush hammered, 
fourteen inches square and three feet above the ground was ob- 
tained. In the autumn of 1849 James Johnston Pettigrew, 
Petigru's cousin, by employing plumb bobs and sighting on the 
north star in the usual method, adjusted the gnomon to the true 
north. It still remains at Badwell. 

In 1843, though then heavily in debt, Mr. Petigru conceived 
the idea of making an avenue of white oaks for the decoration 
of Badwell and as a memorial to himself. His letters for the 
next twenty years show how, in the face of many disappoint- 
ments, he earnestly carried on the enterprise. 

The avenue was perfectly straight and extended for a mile. 
Trees were planted on either side fifty feet apart; the roadway 
was thirty feet wide, and as it was free from rock, and the greater 
portion level, it was only necessary to ditch, remove roots and 
boulders, and surface up. Although the roadbed was of clay, 
being well drained, it answered all the conditions which the traffic 
required. In the course of three years it was completed; and 
as it advanced men were employed to transplant white oaks ob- 
tained from the woods, and where the ground was suitable laurel 
oaks, red oaks and willow oaks. Minute directions were given 
as to these operations, but many of the trees failed because they 
were suffering from injuries before they were transplanted. 

In November, 1846, he engaged an Englishman to plant the 


5th January, 1847. 
I do not believe that you and Mary will like my sending up a 
gardener to plant more trees. But consider that it is my weak- 
ness, and the very thing, therefore, on which I need indulgence. 
Besides, if you wish Badwell to possess attractions for me over 
and above what I feel in your affection, nothing is so sure to lead 

James Louis Petigru 23 

me there as the desire of seeing my trees. Therefore, my dear 
child and children, I do hope you will admit Mr. Barclay, a 
Scotch gardener, recommended by Bainbrook, to the privileges 
of the kitchen and set him at work. I think old Tom will be a 
sufficient help for him, and if you can spare Andrew sometimes, 
that he may catch something of the art, I would be glad. For, 
really, the planting business is expensive, and we ought to know 
of it ourselves by this time. But by no means let Guilfoyle go 
near the trees. I believe they would perish if he looked at them. 

He repeats his directions as to planting, adding "not only to 
make the holes large but to supply plenty of rich mould and to 
pour in at planting a great deal of water"; also directs "old Tom 
to gather acorns of white oaks to be placed in a tub with moist 
sand and kept in a warm place for planting in the spring. " 

In September, 1851, he says: "The loss of the crop is a great 
trial and also the loss of my white oaks, but we will buy corn in 
Augusta and forget the crop that was lost. In setting out an 
avenue at the age of 60 the loss of a year is almost irreparable. " 

January 8, 1852: "Cause the acorns to be planted at once. 
They are to be put in the ground a foot apart with the point 
uppermost. I was wrong to think of putting it off till March. 
Let this matter claim your special attention, my sister. You 
know that we no longer enjoy the privilege of the patriarchs, who 
could see the trees they planted at 100 attain their full growth. 
So contracted, indeed, is the space of modern existence that un- 
less these acorns are put in the ground at once there is great 
chance of their being too late for me." 

A portion of the nursery planted at this time is now a beautiful 
grove of white oaks, as straight as saphngs, and some of the trees 
over two feet in diameter. 

January 29, 1852, he says: " Do not allow the little nigs to for- 
get that their hands were given them principally for the purpose 
of pulling weeds; and my dear sister let not those odious gullies, 
which I was so anxious to fill with fascines, deform the side of the 
hill, nor suffer the terrace to go to decay." 

In July, 1852, he sends two "Cedars of Lebanon" with in- 
structions for planting; he had set out some live oaks, and says, 
"I hear nothing of the live oaks; I hope they are still in the land 
of the living, and that this disappointment with the fountain is 
the chief mortification that I will have to endure in respect with 
my Badwell speculations." 

24 Life, Letters and Speeches 

November 8, 1853: "Though your letter does not give a very 
flattering view of the crop, it contains assurances much more 
agreeable of the fine plantation of acorns that Daddy Tom has 
set out. I hope we will live, some of us, to bask in the shade of 
the trees. You must not be too exacting nor expect from Rodg- 
ers more than is suitable to his degree. And when a person that 
we pay falls short it is well to consider how much worse he might 
have been." 

February 27, 1855: "I am glad that you planted the pine 
mast and hope some will come up. But, my dear Jane, above 
all things, mind my nursery of oaks. They need manure; let 
everything give way to them. No matter if you lose the crop — 
let us secure the fruits of the acorn. Those in the garden re- 
quire manure as much as any. Now do, my dear, don't be 
stingy, but spare labor and time to apply the proper remedy 
against the poverty with which they are threatened. * * * 
I am sorry Magrath has planted no trees. I wish somebody 
would think of earning a little money that way. I would pay 
willingly if it was for only one." 


Charleston, S. C, June 16, 1856. 
My Dear Jane: 

For tho' I have had a bad cold and the worst cough that ever 
laid siege to my poor tenement, yet for much the greater part 
of the time I have been mending; nor have my interruptions or 
troubles excused the ordinary feelings and bother that I am used 
to. Perhaps more is due to the said contents of that letter — 
the depressing news of the destruction of those trees that had 
been reared at so much pains and cost and were regarded with 
such pride as the future memorials of our time. That fire has 
caused me much grief and it ought to suffuse a blush of shame 
on the sable cheek of every man and woman of the Badwell tribe. 
Nothing is left now but to press the growth of the seedlings in 
the garden and the patch, and give them manure and loosen 
the ground. Unless this is done I fear neither Daddy Tom nor 
I will live to see the avenue protected by their foliage at midday 
from the rays of the sun. 

It is unfortunate for Felix that his character suffers by this 
casualty, whether justly or not. I hope he has had one flogging 
and if I was sure it should prevent all such accidents for the 
future I would give him another as soon as I got to Badwell. 

; 1- • , 

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- V 

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r.*, ■■■■ 

• • 

•- < .; ~ 

- . 4 • . 


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If* ' 


i ; ■ 



' "•- 



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- ■■%.^''mm^'. 

"White Oak Avenue 

(Facing 24) 

James Louis Petigru 25 


December 23, 1856. 

This missive will be handed to you by Richard Ready, a native 
of Dublin, bred, as he says, to landscape gardening. Now, I 
know you will hate to see him. I admit it is an annoyance to 
you and to Aunt Mary and to Minny, too, I dare say. But my 
sisters and children, you must take the bitter with the sweet. I 
know you like to have your brother and uncle with you at times 
and this is the price you pay for his company. If the avenue 
were abandoned, though I will not say that the place would have 
no interest to me (for, while you were there that could not be), 
yet, it is certain that one great attraction would be removed. 
Submit, therefore, to the condition that is laid upon your fra- 
ternal and filial affection, and give Richard Ready a friendly 
reception and set him to work with Guilfoyle and one hand and 
a mule and cart when needed. * * * 

If Ready can be accommodated in Phil's house or the over- 
seer's, it is well; if he can not let him be boarded at my expense. 

Mr. W.J. Grayson says: "The last letter I received from him 
was in July, 1860, in which, writing from Badwell, he complains 
of some atrocious mutilations inflicted on certain over cup oaks, 
the delight of his eye, by some vile African who had dismembered 
the oaks to promote the growth of a negro patch of corn and 
pumpkins. He declares in the language of some Latin author, 
that something monstrous is always produced by unhappy 
Africa. What rendered the outrage more intolerable was that 
he attached the names of his friends to his trees, and was form- 
ing of them a sort of arboraceous gallery of portraits. This tree 
was AUston, that one Huger; and the black miscreant with an 
axe as an instrument, had been operating on the limbs of his 
friends and amputating their arms almost before his eyes. It 
was at this time that he sent his servant Hamlet from Abbeville 
to the city to obtain, among other necessaries, a cork oak propa- 
gated from Spanish acorns which I had promised to give him. 
It was a hot dry week in July that scorched everything growing, 
but he trampled on impossibilities in pursuing additions to his 

26 ^(/^5 Letters and Speeches 


Charleston, December 24, 1860. 
My Dear Jane: 

It is a comfort to know * * * that Tony has already 
planted the magnolia seed and that he will in good time, do the 
same by the pine mast. The Parkinsonia, I am afraid, will not 
stand our cold winds. But the Cardiospermum is a climber that 
Prof. Gibbes says is well-nigh domesticated in our country; as 
he says he has seen it growing by the roadside in some places. 

February, 1861: "I am glad to hear that the avenue is under 
the treatment of Toney (Brown). I praise him and Jake; but 
let them take care that praise do not turn to blame; as it will do 
if their planting falls behind that of Marcus and Toney last 
spring. If it equals it they shall have praise and pudding too." 

May 14, 1862: "The cork tree gratifies me heartily, and I 
hope it is not the only branch that is putting out new leaves. 
Though you do not mention it I take it for granted that Harvey 
applies the water cart night and morning." 

December 15, 1862: "Harvey and Toney must not forget 
that next month it will be time to think of the avenue, and have 
each spot occupied by its own tree; the avenue, my only chance 
of going down to posterity, will hardly be finished in my life- 

February 13, 1863: "I hope the avenue is in good hands; I 
wish they, that is Harvey, Titus and Toney, would set out as 
many layers as you can get from the moms multicaulis in the 

Two days before his last visit to his office he writes as follows: 
" February 13, 1863. It is my request that Titus and Toney set 
out cuttings oi morus multicaulis as far as they can." 

The sentimental duty to buy back the land in the vicinity of 
Badwell that had once belonged to his venerated grandfather, 
the Reverend Mr. Gibert, grew to be a mania with Mr. Petigru, 
and though still in debt he would often cramp himself to buy 

In 1847 he bought two small tracts. In 1848, after much 
negotiation, he bought a portion of the land of Squire Collier at 
the appraised value of $3.00 an acre. He had a most exalted 
idea of the value of Abbeville land, and writes: "It is a sad sort 

James Louis Petigru 27 

of game when one buys a neighbor's land for less than it is worth, 
for it shows how his land will go when he is gone." In Febru- 
ary, 1849, he paid to the agent $2,050, the purchase money for 
his portion of the land. He goes on to say: "I think we ought 
to be very happy in being able to walk on our own land, which is 
recommended by the professors of the healing art as the most 
wholesome exercise. Fifty-one years we have been on Badwell, 
which when we came was a very small affair and showed how the 
stream of our grandfather's power had shrunk to contracted 
limits. And now we have spread from the road to the river. 
I wonder if another generation will keep the ground that we 
have so toilfully maintained for half a century. But it is not 
probable that after us anybody will care for the local associations 
that we feel so strongly. Yet we will leave them some recol- 
lections of us in the avenue and the well, if nothing else. I am 
afraid it will be a long time before I will be able to carry into 
effect that dream of a stone cottage* on the brow of the hill, for 
the new office will leave me as poor as a church mouse. You 
are mistaken in supposing that I have got into it. It will be 
some time yet before I can say so." 

*Chapel and school house on the site of the Pastor's residence. 

28 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 



There was at this period the academy of Dr. Moses Waddell 
at Willington, ten miles from Badwell, a grammar school of 
great eminence throughout the State.* How James Louis Peti- 
gru might be sent to this school was a subject of anxious consul- 
tation with the household. How should the expense of board, 
lodging and tuition be defrayed; how could the assistance of the 
bread-winner of the farm be dispensed with; how would the family 
be able to spare one who was the life and soul of the house? 

The decision reached was the result of a chance meeting with 
Dr. Waddell in 1804. He was attending a meeting of some kind 
near Badwell, when some one attempted to relate to the Doctor 
an event which he had read of in a Charleston paper. The nar- 
rator was making bungling work of the story, when Petigru, who 
was standing near, said to the Reverend gentleman, "Sir, the 
affair was after this wise," and went on to tell the tale in a clear 
connected manner and in well-chosen language. The doctor 
was well pleased with the performance, patted the lad, and said 
to him, "If I had you with me I would make a man of you." 

He was sent to Willington forthwith. His return home every 
Friday evening was a jubilee to the house, anxiously looked 
forward to by all parties, and especially by the younger children. 

A letter to his daughter, Caroline Carson, fixes the date of his 
going to school: 


Summerville, October 14, 1862. 

This day, my dear Carey, marks an important epoch in my 

life. This day fifty-eight years ago, I was received into the 

school at Willington, to which I was conducted by my poor Uncle 

Joe, where a Latin grammar as a substitute for the plough was 

*Dr. Waddell, born at Rowan County, North Carolina, July 29, 1770. Died 
at Athens, Georgia, July 31, 1840. For a graphic description of Dr. Waddell's 
school see Longstreet's Romance, with too much "moral," "Master William 

'James Louis Petigru 29 

placed in my hands. Of those who then formed the busy occu- 
pants of Dr. Waddell's hive the only survivors that I know are 
Louis Gillmer and Alexander Bowie. Time has effected many 
changes. A chapter of accidents has contained many sad stories 
and the last and the saddest, the Revolution now in progress. 

Your Father. 

The Willington school was a sort of Eton and Rugby of Ameri- 
can manufacture, and the doctor at its head, the Carolina Dr. 
Arnold. He had great talents for organization and governing; 
his method appealed to the honor and moral sense of the pupils. 
They were not confined with their books unnecessarily in a narrow 
schoolroom; the forest was their place of study; they improvised 
shanties of brush where they prepared their various lessons; the 
horn called them at intervals to change of occupation, the sound 
was repeated from point to point and the woods echoed with 
those sonorous signals for recitation or retirement. When cold 
or wet weather drove the students from the woods, log-cabins 
in various quarters afforded the requisite accommodation. Their 
food was Spartan in plainness — corn-bread and bacon; and for 
lights, torches of pine were more in fashion than candles. Moni- 
tors regulated the classes and sub-division of classes, and pre- 
served the order and discipline of the institution with the small- 
est possible reference to its head. It was a kind of rural republic 
with a perpetual dictator. The scholars were greatly attached 
to the school and after they had become grandfathers they yet 
talked of it with enthusiasm. 

The school of Dr. Waddell was indeed a nursery of genius 
and its reputation drew scholars from all parts of the State — 
from the mountains, parishes and the city. 

There went in turn, Calhoun, Harper, the Wardlaws, McDuf- 
fie, Legare, Grayson, Longstreet, and a host of other lesser 

The shy and awkward boy met with little favor from the 
master. The rustic appearance of the new scholar was a subject 
of remark with the young patricians, the wearers of broad cloth 
and fine linen. They attacked the stranger in home-spun with 
annoyances which school-boy malice or mischief so promptly 
supplies. James's first experience of school life was painful 
enough; he found he must beat his competitors with both head 
and fist; but endowed with an uncommon strength of bodv as 

30 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

well as intellect, he soon established his position. The new-comer 
was driven from the open places of resort by the devices of 
his companions. It was a great trouble to his social and cordial 
nature, and with a heavy heart he retreated to one of the huts 
where he applied himself to his grammar. Presently he felt a 
smart as if something had stung him. He sprang from his seat 
and found that one of his tormentors, a boy named Ramsey, 
from Beaufort district, had inserted through the opening of the 
log-cabin a long stick burning at one end and applied it to the 
seat of his trousers. This was too much; the book was thrown 
to the ground and the injured party rushed on his assailant; a 
desperate fight ensued in which after a severe struggle the offender 
was beaten. The next day a court of sessions was held in the 
school-room. The rules of the institution prohibited fighting. 
Its rights had been violated and the two boys were ranged before 
the Doctor to show cause why they should not be punished for 
their infraction of the law and their contempt for authority. 
The persecuted party told his story fairly and manfully. He 
had a talent for stating a case; he mentioned his provocations, 
his forbearance, his efforts to avoid the wrongs to which he had 
been subjected and the final injury which had exasperated him 
beyond all self-control. The defeated culprit had nothing to 
say. The reverend judge inflicted the same punishment on both 
boys with the most scrupulous exactness — the wrongdoer and 
the wronged fared alike. Petigru felt the injustice far more than 
he did the punishment and ever afterwards referred to it with 
emotion. It was an offence, not so much against him, as against 
the cardinal virtue of justice which he revered all his life. The 
effect of his manly conduct throughout the adventure had the 
result of placing him in the school in his proper position, and his 
assiduity and his ability secured a place speedily in the highest 

Dr. Waddell, though a rigid dominie of the old school, was 
nevertheless sufficient of a courtier to wish his rich birds to make 
the finest showing, and was proportionately provoked when his 
eaglets would soar up from out of the homespun ranks, as most 
of them did. 

On a great day of exhibition, when all the patrons of the school 
were assembled, and James was quite overlooked, when the read- 
ing came to his turn, he pronounced very deliberately that there 

James Louis Petigru 31 

was a word wrong in the text — there was a fault in the Latin; 
Cicero never wrote it so. Dr. Waddell stormed and the boys 
scoffed, but James stood to his assertion. Another edition of 
Cicero was at last brought out and the boy was proved to be 
correct. From that day the school treated him with great respect 
and Dr. Waddell began to pride himself upon his pupil. 

That his attainments were remarkable may be inferred from 
the fact that the master of the school proposed to him that at the 
end of three years he should take the place of the assistant teacher. 

When Mr. Petigru was married in 1816, Dr. Waddell per- 
formed the ceremony. He always treated his old tyrant with 
every respect and the old man came to believe that he had been 
the most affectionate and wisest of masters. When he died Mr. 
Petigru was invited to deliver a eulogy upon him. This he did, 
with a mixture of quiet humor and pathos most interesting; but 
on account of his emotion he could not continue to the end. A 
further tribute to his old teacher was paid by Mr. Petigru in 
closing an oration delivered before the Phi Kappa and Demos- 
thenian Societies of the University of Georgia, August 6, 1846: 

Let him therefore, my young friends, that would show that 
his mind is indeed imbued with the sentiments which a liberal 
education should inspire, be worthy of the civilization of the age, 
and seek to extend its benefits. Let a spirit of benevolence 
govern his aspirations, and reserve his admiration for the bene- 
factors, not the destroyers, of mankind. And in choosing his 
walk in life, let him so cultivate his mind as if private life was to 
be his destiny, and accept of promotion or office, as accidents. 

Nor can I dismiss this topic, without recalling the virtues of 
one, whose life exemplified his doctrine, and who taught what 
the wisest and best of men in every age have inculcated. It is 
not without emotion that I reflect that my venerable master 
long presided over this institution; and my mind delights to 
recall him as he was in days long past, the example of a con- 
scientious laborer in the cause of truth and education. The 
civilization of his age and country may be said, in some degree, 
to be indebted to him, for he carried the lamp of learning to a 
distance from the crowded seats of men, and exerted an influence 
in favor of education that was widely felt. A devout minister 
of religion, he extended its benefits to the poor; a priest without 
avarice or ambition, he fed his Master's sheep with no mercen- 
ary hand; kind, without weakness; devoted to learning, but 
still more devoted to virtue — he trained his pupils to place the 
pride of intellect far below the value of moral sensibility. 

32 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

To the virtues that he taught and the discipline acquired in 
his school, are many indebted; and some there are, whose hearts 
will not receive, unmoved, the impression of his name, when the 
cause of education and the mild dignity of private life recall the 
memory of Moses Waddell. 

James Louis Petigru 33 



In December, 1806, James Louis Petigru entered as a sopho- 
more at the South CaroHna College. His class graduated in 
1809, being the fourth class to graduate since the opening of the 
College in January, 1805. At that time the buildings had not 
been completed, nor the walls, which for many years after sur- 
rounded the college campus. The first president was the Rev- 
erend Jonathan Maxey, a Baptist preacher, a native of Attleboro, 
Mass., who had been president of Brown University in Rhode 
Island, and Union College, Schenectady, N. Y. 

To enable James to go to college a part of the funds was fur- 
nished by his uncle, Joseph Gibert, but the larger portion he 
borrowed himself from his neighbor, "Squire" Collier. From 
his first earnings as a schoolmaster he repaid the debt, but having 
sent the money by mail it was lost and it had to be paid the 
second time. The "Squire" died in 1845, when Petigru was 
at the height of his reputation. He placed a handsome marble 
slab over the remains, with a most appropriate and beautifully 
simple inscription: 

H. S. E. 

Edward Collier 

A native of Lunenburg, Virginia 

Once Master of these Acres 

Son of Cornelius Collier and Elizabeth Wyatt 

Of five sons they gave two 

To the Noble Army of Independence 

Wyatt who fell at Eutaw and 

James a gallant rider in Pulaski's troop 

To the memory of the honest Man 

Careful of his own 

Without infringing on others 

Of mild temper and sterling courage 

A Humane Master and 

A Good Neighbour 

This stone is inscribed 

Bv a Neighbour 

Nat. July 1765 

Obt. May 7th, 1845 

34 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

In order to obtain further means necessary for his support 
Petigru secured a position as teacher in the Columbia Academy, 
for which reason he was permitted to Hve outside the College 
grounds. Even thus he was forced to practice the greatest econ- 
omy. Eating but one meal a day, he was barely able to supply 
himself with books and clothing during the college term. The 
narrowness of his circumstances forced him to decline more than 
one hospitable invitation, a sacrifice especially severe to one of 
his genial nature and joyous temperament. 

The Academy became one of the land-marks at Columbia, 
and this old dilapidated building, surrounded by grand elm trees, 
was in after days with pride pointed out by the citizens of Colum- 
bia as the place where James Louis Petigru taught school. It 
was torn down a few years ago. 

He read with the greatest rapidity, his eye being able to take 
in a whole page at a glance; he devoted himself to his studies; 
nor did he confine himself to the college curriculum — the whole 
range of literature and belles-lettres engaged his attention. The 
classical poets were with him as household words, and an ex- 
traordinary memory enabled him often to quote the minor poets 
which he had not read since boyhood. Plutarch was always an 
intimate friend, and he would often jokingly credit the clever 
old Beoetian for some ingenious invention of his own. 

Grayson speaks of the entire night spent by them both in the 
keen enjoyment of the wit of Rabelais. James was especially 
fond of poetry; his taste was formed between the works of Dry- 
den and Pope and he was ever ready with an apt quotation. 
He resented the fashion of decrying the old English classics. 

One of his fellow-students in the room adjoining wrote some 
verses disparaging Pope and left them on the table. Petigru 
found the criticism where it was lying, and forthwith wrote his 
comment on the poet's performance in corresponding verse. 

Grayson gives it from memory after a lapse of more than half 

a century: 

"Pity that scribblers should aspire 
To write of Pope without his fire; 
To criticise in witless lines, 
The wit in every page that shines; 
To chide, in verses dull and tame, 
The poet's verse of endless fame; 
His taste assail in tasteless strains, 
And earn a Dunciad for their pains." 

James Louis Petigru ZS 

He formed no bad habits at college and he would neither chew 
nor smoke tobacco. In later life, when describing the gradual 
fall of a young man, he would say, "He would go to the country- 
shop instead of ploughing, sit on a dry box whittling a stick and 
talk gossip and politics, and finally he would take to smoking a 
pipe." This seemed to him the abyss of degradation. How- 
ever, in later life he took kindly to the gentlemanly vice of taking 
snufF, a habit which gradually grew upon him. 

He had no taste for active sports or exercises and was unwilling 
to waste time in their pursuit. This did not proceed from want 
of alertness or vigor, for he was an exceedingly strong and active 

There were two qualities in which he was absolutely deficient: 
an eye for color and an ear for music. He was exceedingly am- 
bitious to excel in the accomplishment of dancing but his success 
bore no proportion to his efforts. His mode of dancing, like his 
mode of talking and acting, was peculiar to himself and was 
sometimes very much more hearty and original than graceful, 
so that it forced a smile from the ladies who danced with him. 

He graduated in December, 1809, at the age of twenty and 
received the first honors in his class. To George Bowie of Abbe- 
ville, his old school-mate, who afterwards removed to Alabama, 
was awarded the second honor. 

It was at this time that he put into execution a design he had 
long thought of, which was to change the spelling of his name. 
Having a strong leaning to his Huguenot parentage, and his 
father's family holding the tradition of having come to Ireland 
from France, he adopted the French spelling and all his brothers 
and sisters followed him and adopted the change. In after years, 
however, he regretted the alteration of the patronymic. 

On his return home after graduation he found that the narrow 
fortunes of the household had become narrower still. Debts 
had been contracted; the old farm, his birth-place, had been 
taken to satisfy some of these; and the negroes had gone to pay 
others. His Uncle Finley, whom he consulted, advised him to 
remove to some new country and sever himself from the falling 
fortunes of his family. " I will never desert my mother, " was his 
reply. "Then you will all sink together, " was Finley's answer; 
"ruin is inevitable. " He was stung almost to madness by these 
cruel words, the more so, perhaps, as he recognized their truth. 

36 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

His strong and passionate nature was stirred to its depth, he 
was almost in despair and would gladly have welcomed some 
sudden convulsion of nature that would snatch them all away 
from the fate which seemed to await them. Strong and vigorous 
as he was, every channel for the immediate relief of the family 
seemed to be barred. The only opening that appeared was 
that he should resume the plough and work the farm. Telling 
his mother of this determination, the usual, calm, firm spirit of 
the Pastor's daughter asserted itself and she would not hear of 
this sacrifice. She cheered and encouraged him and advised 
that he could best assist his home by leaving it to go where for- 
tune invited. 

James Louis Petigru 37 


Teaching School and Reading Law 

He decided to try his fortune in Beaufort district. Influential 
friends secured a school for him in the lower part of St. Luke's 
parish on the Eutaw, near the Baptist Church, which he made 
his school-room. Under the guidance of Mr. William Robertson 
of Beaufort district he commenced the study of law, and for his 
support he taught school. While engaged in this double scheme 
for the present and the future, he boarded in the family of the 
Reverend Dr. Sweet, the pastor of the church. 

He remained in charge of this school for about six months 
and then removed to Beaufort. 

Beaufort is situated on a high bluff overlooking the bay at the 
head of St. Helena Sound and is one of the most picturesque 
little towns on the Atlantic coast. It was always a residence of 
some of the wealthiest and most cultivated people of South Caro- 
lina, and a summer resort of the planters of the adjacent planta- 

At Beaufort a college was organized in 1795, but the corner 
stone of the building was not laid until 1802. It had a board of 
trustees who furnished their ideas on education, and although 
the institution had the power to issue degrees, it never rose 
higher than an academy. The rules were stringent; two vaca- 
tions a year of four weeks each; the summer hours for the school 
were from six to eight and from nine till twelve in the morning, 
and from one till five in the afternoon. 

On July 10, 1810, Petigru was appointed assistant at a salary 
of nine hundred dollars per annum, and in 1811 he temporarily 
succeeded to the presidency at the resignation of the incumbent 
and was allowed an increased compensation. He discharged 
with zeal and ability the duties of the whole school. The teacher 
became a favorite with all parties, with the inhabitants at large, 
and with the boys, who delighted in his genial humor that lent 
itself readily in play-hours to their amusement. Stern as a Turk 
in upholding the laws of discipline, he sometimes resorted to the 
most decisive modes of enforcing them. He had small patience 

38 ^(/^) Letters and Speeches 

with dunces, and one stupid fellow provoked him so much one 
day that he kicked him out of the door, and when the chap 
roared and rolled on the ground, Petigru went out and kicked 
him in at the window. But he was usually as joyous as one of 
the boys, and when the hour of study was over he would some- 
times spin tops or play marbles with as much glee as any of 
their number. 

At the end of the year 1812 there was an election for the presi- 
dency of the academy; Petigru was a candidate for the place. 
Mr. M. L. Hurlbut,* of New England, was elected and our re- 
jected candidate went back to St. Lukes and the law. It was 
some time before the Trustees could find a suitable person to 
take the assistant's place, so Petigru remained in the college 
some months longer. He and the president were strangers to 
each other's character, and according to Grayson an incident 
occurred which endangered their amicable relations. During 
the time that Petigru acted as president he had used an arm- 
chair of his own providing, and it was left in the principal's 
room. He wanted it in a day or two, and sent a boy to bring it. 
The messenger returned, saying that the president refused to 
give it up. President Hurlbut had not yet learned his subordi- 
nate's nature; impatient always of personal wrongs and prompt 
to resist them he would have given a dozen chairs at a word of 
request, but lawless authority or injustice he would not tolerate. 
The assistant strolled into the room, shouldered the chair, and 
marched off to his own quarters in a manner too significant to 
be mistaken. It was a revelation of the man that Mr. Hurlbut 
never forgot. The president was an estimable man, and the 
assistant was frank, placable and ready to appreciate merit, 
wherever he found it; friendly relations were soon established, 
which continued ever afterwards between the descendants of 
Mr. Hurlbut and those of Mr. Petigru. 

Mr. Petigru was wont to say that if he had succeeded in the 
election for the presidency of the Beaufort College it would have 

*He and the Reverend John Morgan Palmer, rector of the Circular Church, 
married daughters of Captain Jared Bunce of Philadelphia. He was father of 
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut, Major-General of the United States Army, and a 
member of Congress from Illinois; by a second marriage father of William Henry 
Hurlbut of the NewYorkWorld^ and of George Hurlbut, Secretary to the Ameri- 
can Geographical Society. 

James Louis Petigru 39 

fixed him in the occupation of teaching and changed the whole 
course of his life. What the youth of the State, of the country, 
and EngHsh Hterature lost can never be estimated. He became 
a great lawyer, perhaps the first common-law lawyer in the 
United States, but as a literary man and the president of a uni- 
versity he might have been still more distinguished. His tastes 
lay in that direction. There was a great deal of real truth in the 
remark he once jestingly made : " I have a mind to take to lectur- 
ing. I would rather undertake to teach the boys than the 
judges." To a friend, who in after years spoke of having his 
son study law, he replied, " If you have a son who is a fool, bring 
him to the bar." The engrossing duties of his profession and 
the pressure of misfortune left him no leisure to indulge his liter- 
ary tastes. In the evening of his days, speaking of his natural 
inclination for literature rather than law, a gentleman asked why 
he had not gratified it. He replied by quoting the first lines of 
Gray's ode: 

"Daughter of Love, relentless power, 
Thou tamer of the human breast." 

The querist, who was not a man of letters, was as wise as ever; 
but there were others by who appreciated at once the delicacy of 
the reply and what it cost to make it. 

40 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 


Social Life at Beaufort 

The friendship of Judge Huger for Petigru rendered his intro- 
duction into the best houses in Beaufort easy, and his wit and 
vivacity soon made him a favorite with all who knew him. In 
his will he says: "The portrait of my friend and early patron, 
Judge Huger, I leave to my dear wife, who shares with me the 
affection which I bear to his family." 

One of the wealthy houses at which he became intimate was 
that of Mrs. Heyward, widow of Judge Thomas Heyward, of 
Whitehall. He derived great benefit from her conversation and 
from the use of her library, and a friendship sprang up between 
himself and her son Tom. 

It was at a large dinner at this house, at which an old General 
of the Revolution and other distinguished guests occupied places 
of honor, that he and Tom Heyward sat at the lower end " below 
the salt." The conversation among the elders was witty and 
humorous, but had, to say the least, no false delicacy about it. 
An occasional broad phrase in the fashion of the time reached 
and tickled the ears of the juniors. When the guests had gone 
Mrs. Heyward rather embarrassed her young friend by asking 
him what he thought of the talk at her end of the table. " Why, 
Madam," said he, with some hesitation, "I thought it rather 

In writing of Mrs. Heyward he remarked: "In truth she is a 
wonderful old lady, a vara avis, in terris, and has with the garrul- 
ity of a woman all the ideas and language of a man." To this 
wonderful old lady he wrote verses which unfortunately are not 

In after life he occasionally quoted a remark of Tom Hey- 
ward's: "Whatever parties may exist in a country and under 
whatever name they may go, there are always two aristocracies 
— the aristocracy of talent and the aristocracy of wealth. You 
[to Petigru] belong to the one and I belong to the other." 

Another place at which Mr. Petigru was a frequent guest was 

James Louis Petigru 41 

the plantation of Mr. Neufville, Rocky Point, on Graham's Neik. 
Mr. Neufville was an accomplished man of the world, loved wit 
and vivacity and was noted for a duel in which he had out-man- 
oeuvred Boone Mitchell, who was rated as the most expert 
duellist of the time. A challenge passed between them; but 
fortunately Neufville's seconds understood the teaching of the 
code that more principals are killed through the ignorance of the 
seconds than by the weapons of the adversaries. They arranged 
that the principals should be placed at the usual thirty paces 
apart and at the word should advance and fire at any time until 
the distance of ten paces was reached. As they had calculated, 
Mitchell reserved his fire, but Neufville fired at the word and 
was fortunate enough to disable the pistol arm of his adversary. 
Mitchell still grasping his pistol, supported it on his left arm, 
fired and missed his man. 

On the grounds of the Neufville plantation the aloe grew in 
great profusion and one of the amusements of the young people 
was to carve their names and write verses on the large, thick 
leaves. A Miss C. remarked that the plants were more fruitful 
in wit and poetry than in flowers. Spurred by this remark 
young Petigru improved the occasion by producing some verses 
of his own, a copy of which he sent to Grayson. 

The Aloe 
"Though bitter the aloe, 'tis pleasant to gaze 
On a plant of such wonderful birth, 
That blossoms but once in the limited days 
Allotted the children of earth. 
And such, lovely maid, is the passion I prove; 
Yet, ah! it depends upon you, 
Whether, doomed to endure like the aloe, my love 
Must be like it in bitterness too." 

"How do you like that?" he asks. "Short and sweet, ay! Epi- 
grammatic, forsooth! Tell me your opinion. I suppose you 
think that Tom Moore has reason to complain of the first stanza. 
Do you think it so near a theft as to be actionable?" 

The stanzas met with favor from the lady. They were more 
fortunate than a sonnet which Petigru finished with great care 
, and submitted to the critical judgment of the Courier. It 
was rejected on the ground that the metre was too imperfect for 
publication. Mr. Petigru used to say that this was the greatest 
mortification of his life. 

42 ^(/^5 Letters and Speeches 

"The verses," he said, "may have lacked the divine afflatus, 
but their EngHsh construction was perfect." 

He, however, continued to write poetry and amused himself 
by attempting to imitate the measures of various poets, as the 
following letter shows. It is a little lofty to be addressed to a 
young lady of seventeen, and to one who knew them both it is 
rather a puzzle which to admire most, his youthful enthusiasm 
or his adroit flattery and irony. 

The lady to whom he addressed the poem on "The Aloe," 
"Miss C," who, as Grayson gently insinuates, received his poem 
but declined his addresses, was Miss Chisolm. She is again re- 
ferred to in this letter and it is a fact that though she twice re- 
jected his addresses before he met Miss Postell* it was never 
considered a very serious affair. 


Beaufort, Aug. 25th, 1812. 
There are two things I believe firmly: I believe with Sir Isaac 
Newton, that the eyes were made to see with, and I believe with 
the rest of the world, that pens were made to write with. As the 
eyes are never more riveted to their duty than in gazing on a fine 
lady, so there is nothing generally written with more alacrity 
than a letter. I think I am, myself, an example to prove this 
remark, for here I am writing most gravely to Miss Postell, be- 
cause she said in a jest that I might do so. Now, were I called 
on to account for this partiality, that people have for writing 
letters above anything else, I would give these reasons: In the 
first place, such compositions are submitted, in general, to a 
more favorable tribunal than any other. Very likely Mr.Crafts 
has often written to his friends many duller things than his 
parody of Gray's Bard, yet no one ever blamed him for it. But 
as soon as anyone makes the world his correspondent, he can no 
longer be dull with impunity. In the next place, an epistolary 
writer has a great advantage in this: that he is pretty sure of 
being read. A distinction which, many who publish sermons, 
and many who write philosophical systems, never had the good 
fortune to attain. To be read is indeed the prayer and aim of 
everyone, that aspires to the name of a writer. How happy then 
is he, who scribbles letters, under the assurance that he shall not 
be without this honor; after which epic poets and historians have 
strived in vain! That people are very tenacious on this subject, 
may be well shown by an anecdote. Lord Ossory was a bosom 
friend of Dean Swift, and was left his executor by him. He was 

*Letter of Caroline Carson to T- P- C. 

James Louis Petigru 43 

engaged in discharging this trust with great tenderness to the 
Dean's memory, when unluckily, one day, in examining the 
papers of the deceased, he found a letter from himself, with the 
seal unbroken, on which was written in the Dean's own hand, 
"This will keep cold." My Lord's friendship, in a single mo- 
ment, was converted into rage, and he immediately set himself 
to write a history of the Dean's life, for the sole purpose of tra- 
ducing and vilifying his character. See then the laws, as far as 
I have been able to ascertain them, that prevail between those 
that write letters; they may be summed up thus: To go uncriti- 
cised, and to be punctually read. Can you then be surprised, 
that I should write to you, or that letters should be a favorite 
way of writing.^ Do you recollect that I was to write some verses 
on Laura? Here they are: 

To Laura 
Sweet image of Saints, that repose 
Where anger and strife never come! 
Whose looks, like a mirror disclose 
The charms, that in Paradise bloom. 

Sweet Laura! how placid the dream, 
That holds thy young being in trance; 
Untroubled you glide on the stream, 
And passive and harmless advance. 

Those eyes, that with pity shall melt. 
Or smile, with attraction to bless. 
Now lambent and gazing unfelt, 
Nor sorrow, nor joy can express. 

Thy morning 's begun and is fair; 
Thy lot 's with the tender and good; 
And O! may thy day be as clear. 
Nor sorrows to cloud it, intrude. 

I hope Miss Laura will be instructed to recognize in me her 
first admirer and poet. I have taken the verse of Shenstone for 
my model; a measure that I was always fond of, but never at- 
tempted in practice before. By the way I ought to ask you if 
you are fond of Shenstone, and to beg if you have not done it 
before, to read his "School Mistress" and his "Pastoral Ballad." 
You will find them in Dodsley Miscellanies at Mrs. Heyward's. 

I hope you received "Thinks I to myself" safe. I dare say 
you have had many a good laugh in the perusal of it. Is it not 
strange that a work so fanciful and so ludicrous should be written 
by a man like Mr. Canning, who is engaged in such high employ- 
ments and occupied by the most serious cases in the world .^ It 
shows, I think, great versatility of mind and great happiness of 

44 I^iJ^t Letters and Speeches 

A young gentleman of your acquaintance is going to be 
married next month. I tell you this, because he is a Philadel- 
phia student and it was thought heretofore that his medical hon- 
ors would precede his matrimonial preferment. It is not every 
city that sustains a siege of Troy, nor is it every lady that will 
allow her lover to go to Philadelphia without her. The lady's 
name resembles a field of undergrowth, and the gentleman's 
you can guess at. Adjutant C. is going to bring his lady among 
us. We thought she was going to be an inmate of ours, but my 
hostess has been displaced by another housekeeper and that 
housekeeper by a third. My hostess observed she was not sorry 
for that these old maids always continue to be freakish. See 
what it is to be an old maid and not have a good word from any- 
body! There are sick children in the house, whose lives are even 
thought to be in danger. I hope you have no such disasters at 
Rockspring. Mr. Gregorie and Dr. Doyley are said to be rivals; 
you know Mr. G.'s old flame. A former lover of a young lady 
at Cuthbertville is said to be attracted within the influence of the 
other sister Miss I. C, I merely repeat common scandal. With 
sentiments of the highest respect to yourself and Miss Ford, I am 
young ladies, your most servile to command. 

J. L. Petigru. 

After he was admitted to the bar another fancy touched his 
heart more seriously. The object was Mary Bowman, a very 
lovely girl of Beaufort. She had every beauty of face and figure, 
though to say the truth she was not, by any means, as well sup- 
plied as the bride of Scarron in one of the articles enumerated in 
his marriage settlement. 

But the lady was an expectant, merely, of fortune, and her 
admirer unfurnished as yet with anything more than genius and 
force of character. A rich suitor, a widower with one small child 
and two or three plantations, made court to the fair one and was 
forthwith accepted. The relatives, at least, thought the match 
too good to be refused. Her young friend in after life never 
failed to speak of her with gentle memories and unbounded ad- 
miration of her beauty. 

Thrown into such society, it is not suprising that, writing a 
letter to Mr. Grayson at this period, he should lament over his 
lost zeal for study and wish that " he was fairly within the vulgar 
pale, lording it over a farm, talking of venison, drum fish, cotton- 
seed and politics. This is the state in which a man quietly vege- 
tates and like other vegetables is governed by steady principles 

James Louis Petigru 45 

and is led to dissolution by regular gradations without the annoy- 
ance of passion or eccentricity of mind." 

No one would ever have supposed that at the beginning of his 
career he was intensely shy and nervous, not only at visiting the 
fine houses but even when he began to speak in court. He used 
to tell with much humor how there was one lady who made him 

welcome, but by ill-luck he addressed her once as Mrs. X 

the name of his landlady, the wife of the captain of a coasting 
vessel. The great lady drew herself up; he knew he had given 
offence and took great pains not to repeat it, but the very next 
time he spoke to her he did the same thing. At last it became a 

sort of spell, he could not call her anything but Mrs. X , 

and he had to give up visiting at the house. 

46 >^(/^j Letters and Speeches 


Admitted to the Bar; A Soldier 

During the time that Mr. Petigru was teaching in the college 
at Beaufort he read law under the direction of Mr. William 
Robertson. He was admitted to the bar at Charleston at the 
end of December, 1812, in company with an old school-fellow, 
J. F. Trezevant, Robert Y. Hayne, and John Mark Verdier of 

In consequence of the war all business was suspended and 
there was nothing for a young lawyer to do. 

When two English sloops of war, the Moselle and Colibri, in 
the summer of 1813 were at anchor in Port Royal and the mil- 
itia of the neighboring parishes were mustered for the defence of 
the islands, Mr. Petigru marched in a company under Captain 
Huguenin to Hilton Head with a musket on his shoulder, pre- 
pared to do battle in the front rank for the country's honor, 
though entirely lacking in sympathy with the war measures of 
the Administration. 

At a subsequent period, in 1832, when General Jackson sent 
General Scott to Charleston to pacify the nullifiers, Scott was 
recounting one day at Mr. Petigru's house an event of the war 
of 1812. Turning to his host, he said, "You are too young, 
Petigru, to have taken part in the war." "Too young," Peti- 
gru replied, stretching out his legs as he sat, throwing himself 
back in his chair, crossing his hands on his chest, — "Too young, 
General! Why at that very time I was burning with a passion- 
ate desire to be a hero." And he told of his exploits on Hilton 
Head, and his driving a wagon under Huguenin's command. 

He relieved the monotony of his country life by visits to 
Charleston, where he met many friends, some in the service and 
some seeking it. His letters to Grayson at this period recount 
his meetings with mutual friends and happenings in the seaport 
city. One of them says: "I can not make a like return to the 
hero-comic story of your letter, but I can tell you of a damned 
rascally thing of recent occurrence. A privateer, the Revenge, 
Captain Butler, put into this port two weeks ago. The common 

James Louis Petigru 47 

soldiers had divided more than one thousand dollars apiece and 
this overflow came from robbing a Spanish vessel. They robbed 
her crew and passengers not only of all their money, but of every 
rag of clothing except what was on their backs. The pirates 
strutted through Charleston, proclaiming this deed, displaying 
their gold watches and fine clothes, and not a soul took any 
notice of it, till at length the crew got to fighting among them- 
selves, and one informed. Even then the marshal arrested none 
but the captain, and it is said retained no evidence against him. 
Thus to the dishonor of our name, these pirates, in all probabil- 
ity, will go ofi^ with impunity." 

In another he wrote: " I was amazed, at the sight of our friend 
James T. Dent, who was expecting an appointment from Wash- 
ington. You may remember his steady attachment to the 
maxim of Creech's Horace: 

'Not to admire is all the art I know, 
To make men happy and to keep them so.* 

"He has been wandering about carelessly improving his knowl- 
edge to the detriment of his purse; but while one's capital has not 
yet gone and his hopes are young there is nothing to prevent 

He says, "I met Bull* too, and was positively astonished; he 
is considered the Governor's private secretary though it has not 
been formally announced. It is a snug post, and opens the world 
to him in a very advantageous manner. 

"There was no pique or misunderstanding between him and 
General Alston. The boy grew restive and, as the method 
agreed on between the parties precluded coercion. Bull refused to 
receive the salary any longer, and left the place contrary to the 
General's wishes." 

In another letter Petigru speaks of having met with General 

*William H. Bull had gone from college to be a tutor in Alston's family. 
Joseph Alston was Governor of South Carolina from 1812 to 1814. In 1801 he 
married Theodosia Burr and the home of the two was thereafter at "The Oaks. " 
They had one son, Aaron Burr Alston, who died on the thirteenth of June, 1812. 
It was from "The Oaks" that Theodosia Burr Alston departed to sail on the 
thirtieth of December, 1812, on the pilotboat-built schooner Prt/r/o/, from George- 
town to New York. The vessel never reached her destination. A severe gale 
off the coast of North Carolina was encountered, the Patriot was foundered and 
all on board perished. The story of her capture by pirates is a fiction which does 
not deserve serious consideration. 

48 ^^y<?, Letters and Speeches 

Tait* at the Planters' Hotel, and remarks that he"never met him 
without being struck by his misfortunes and the calmness with 
which he bore them." 

General Tait was a soldier of fortune. He had served in the 
American Revolution with the commission, it is said, of Captain 
of Artillery. Afterwards he went to France to offer his sword 
to the new republic, which was declined. Following is an ac- 
count of Tait's services: 

"The French generals Hoche and Carnot conceived the ex- 
traordinary idea of landing on the coast of Wales a force of some 
fifteen hundred convicts and setting them loose to pillage the 
enemy's country; and each man was informed that from the 
moment he landed in England he would be regarded as having 
been pardoned by the French Government. On February 22, 
1797, a French squadron appeared in Cardigan Bay and disem- 
barked fifteen hundred French convicts under the command of 
Colonel Tait. This was the last foreign invasion of England. 

"The colonel and his precious men were armed to the teeth 
and carried out as far as possible the instructions to avoid actual 
fighting and devote themselves to pillage and plunder. But 
three days later they were surrounded by a large force of yeo- 
manry and militia and surrendered. 

"At a subsequent exchange of prisoners the French Govern- 
ment absolutely refused to receive any of the worthies of the 
command of Colonel Tait. At length the English declined to 
keep them any longer and under cover of night quietly landed 
them on the French coast, where their presence inspired eloquent 
expressions of terror. Ultimately the French troops were forced 
by popular sentiment to round them up, and to the number of 
eight hundred they were conveyed to the galleys. The seven 
hundred others managed to escape capture and remained fugi- 
tives from French justice, as the government declined to fulfill 
the promise of considering them as pardoned from the moment 
they set foot in England." 

How the General lived in Charleston nobody could tell, but 
probably on the charity of his hostess, Mrs. Calder. He was a 
stoic in temperament and bore the ills of fortune with equanimity. 
He was a man of striking appearance, of good address, and his 
varied experience gave many charms to his conversation. 

*W. J. Grayson, Memoir of James Louis Petigru (N. Y., 1866), page 55. 

James Louis Petigru 49 

He was ever sanguine of success, as he was among the inven- 
tors of perpetual motion. He went to Philadelphia to perfect 
his machine and probably died in the poorhouse. 

Mr. Petigru knew the relatives of the battered old adventurer 
in Abbeville, which was a sufficient tie, and he never failed in 
visiting the city to seek the veteran, to manifest a lively concern 
in his troubles, and to admire the magnanimity with which he 
endured the ills of a long and luckless career. 

Of another visit to Charleston, Petigru says: "Nobody met 
me with more cordiality than Mrs. Calder at the Planters' Hotel. 
The good lady took hold of my hands, called me her son, and 
what was more extraordinary, remembered I had left her house 
on a former visit, at the time of her son's death. She burst into 
tears and declared she could never be restored to tranquility 
again. She looked, indeed, very much reduced. Nevertheless, the 
hostess at length predominated and she joined with much glee in 
some of Frank Hampton's* broadest jokes. Frank is another of 
the old fraternity that I find here. This may be said of Frank, 
that I see no difference in him now in his prosperity, a gay and 
gallant officer, from what he was before. He is the same only 
greatly improved." 

Another character was "Grassy" Smith, about whom the 
following story is told by Mr. Joseph W. Barnwell in his address 
at the opening of Petigru College: 

Mr. Petigru, who was fond of asking in subsequent years about 
people whom he had known at Beaufort, once said to Mr. Pope, 
"And how is 'Grassy' Smith?" So called from the condition of 
his fields which adjoined the high road near Port Royal ferry. 
"Ah," he said, when informed of his death, "dead! He was a 
man of great judgment. I remember during the war of 1812 
that my friend Bowman said to me, 'Let us go over the ferry on 
Saturday and enjoy ourselves. I have a bottle of the best which 
has got through the embargo. ' We went. The lunch was good, 
and the brandy was better. On our return the ferryman was, 
of course, on the other side, and we had nothing to do while wait- 
ing in the cold except to finish the bottle. Suddenly my friend, 
who hati but one arm, fell from his horse in a fit. A negro was 
sent to summon Grassy, known for his benevolence, and down 
he came with a forceps in one hand and a lancet in the other, in- 
tent on doing good. I rushed up to him and earnestly explained 
to him the sad condition of my friend. Grassy bent over him, 
rose, turned upon his heel, and said, 'They are both drunk.' 
And I always respected his judgment, for it was true." 

*He was a son of General Wade Hampton of the Revolution. 

50 ^?/^, Letters and Speeches 



Commences the Practice of Law 

As soon as he was admitted to the bar Petigru began to prac- 
tice in Beaufort district, attending also the Courts of Colleton 
and Barnwell, which together constituted the Southern circuit. 
Mr. Petigru's headquarters were at Coosawhatchie, the judicial 
capital of Beaufort district. Conditions were most inauspicious 
during the war of 1812. The planters were unable to sell their 
produce, there was no money in the country and all business was 
paralyzed. On this account Petigru talked sometimes of going 
to New Orleans, the point of attraction then of young and enter- 
prising men. But the duty that he felt that he owed to his 
mother and family restrained him. His first and only partner 
during his practice before the country courts was his classmate, 
John Farquhar Trezevant,* but the partnership was not of long 
duration, as Mr. Trezevant married in May, 1813, and moved 
away. Coosawhatchie was built on the road running from 
Charleston to Savannah at a point about midway between those 
two cities, where a little so-called river of the same name was 
crossed. On the left the bank of the river was low and marshy; 
on the higher ground of the right bank the village extended 
along the road, and it was so well situated for catching bilious 
fever that the visitor seldom escaped it. It was hardly habitable 
during the summer. f The evil increased as the woods were cut 
down, and the moist, fertile soil was exposed to the action of the 
sun. To live in the village for two consecutive summers became 
almost impossible for white men. Few ever attempted it. 
There was one exception — P. I. Besselleu, who kept a shop, and 
furnished board and lodging for lawyers and clients in term-time. 
He was able to live with country fever with all its varieties, as 
conjurors in Bengal handle venomous serpents without harm or 
danger. He must have been anointed in infancy with some drug 

*Son of Peter Trezevant. See page 27, "Trezevant Family," by J.T. Trezevant. 
f Grayson, page 68. 

James Louis Petigru 51 

of mysterious efficacy. The alligator in the neighborhood was 
not safer than he. To every white man but himself a summer in 
Coosawhatchie was death. It was unnecessary to try a criminal 
there, charged with a capital offence. All that was required was 
to put him in jail in May to wait his trial at the November Court. 
The State paid for a coffin and saved the expense of trial and ex- 
ecution. At night the jailer thought it unnecessary to remain 
in the jail. He locked his doors and went away to some healthier 
place until morning, confident that his prisoners had neither 
strength nor spirit to escape. At last the lawyers became dis- 
satisfied. They loved fair play as well as fees and desired to see 
the rogues brought to justice in the regular way, with a chance 
for their lives, such as the assistance of a lawyer always affords 
them. The general jail delivery brought about by fever pre- 
vented the thief from being duly hanged and the counsel from 
receiving his retainer. The culprit escaped the halter through 
the climate, not through the bar. The whole proceeding was 
informal; petitions were got up to change the site of the court- 
house and jail to a healthy place, and Coosawhatchie ceased to 
be the district capital. When Mr. Petigru began to practice 
law the village was in its palmiest state. It had a dozen shops 
or houses, with a hundred inhabitants in the winter and Mr. 
Besselleu in the summer. 

All that remains of Coosawhatchie to-day are a few scattered 
negro cabins, and a grove of sycamore trees on the former site 
of the court-house and jail.* 

During the summer Mr. Petigru retreated to Rock Spring in 
the pine-land, where he found a friend in Dr. North, who prac- 
ticed medicine, and had to fly like his patients from fever in the 
summer season. 

Speaking of his first struggle in the law, he said that the first 
retainer that was ever offered him outside of Coosawhatchie was 
at Jacksonborough in the shape of a silver quarter by a pine- 
woodsman, who was looking for a defender in a case of petty 

On another occasion he stopped at a tavern. The landlady, 
evidently a little doubtful as to his ability to pay, addressed him: 

*Besselleu, with surprisingly good handwriting, wrote to Mr. Petigru in 1839, 
to draw his will and be his heir for the protection of his family. To this appeal, 
and others for twenty years, he promptly responded. 

52 Life, Letters and Speeches 

"What is your business?" "Madam, I am a peddler," he re- 
plied. "What are your goods? "she said. "I deal in practices 
and precedents." "I don't like none of them new-fashioned 
goods; all I want is a gingham dress, and I don't believe I want 
to look at 'em." 

However, it appeared to establish his credit. Often did he 
say that the first three years of his practice he had never had the 
opportunity of making a brief, but he took his revenge out of the 
public by studying all the harder. 

The war came to an end early in 1815 and business revived. 
The young lawyer began to make a fair income and his repu- 
tation soon spread. 

With the first money he earned he persuaded his father to let 
him pull down the old farmhouse at Badwell and build a new one 
for his mother. This has ever been the home of the family and 
he formed a habit of going there every summer for his vacation. 

In 1816 he was elected solicitor of the district. The pay of 
solicitor is not large but the office gives position and leads to 
practice. "I have been elected in Columbia," he writes to a 
friend, "while sitting down innocent of solicitation in Coosa- 
whatchie. But if you are disposed to wonder, you will wonder 
no longer when you recollect the zeal of Huger and the energy of 
Pringle." These gentlemen, Daniel E. Huger and James R. 
Pringle, were members of the general assembly from Charleston, 
friends who adhered to him through life. 

His chief and constant opponent at the bar was William D. 
Martin, who commenced practicing about the same time. They 
were arrayed against each other in every case, like men-at-arms, 
separating justice on either hand. If the plaintiff had the aid of 
one, the defendant was always backed by the other. Many of the 
country people thought that they had a private understanding 
as to which cases each was to win. On one occasion Mr. Petigru 
was even approached by a client with the proposition that he 
should not only argue the case, but arrange with Martin that it 
should be one of those which he was to gain. They were men 
of frank, cordial, joyous natures, and appreciated in each other 
the high qualities which they possessed in common. Mr. Peti- 
gru used to say that the first time he went to ride the circuit," as 
lawyers did in those days," he and his friend Martin set off 
together. Martin's horse died, and they continued progress by 

James Louis Petigru 53 

the system called "ride and tie," with the condition that the 
walker carried always the saddle of the dead beast. When both 
were in easy circumstances afterward, at dinner they used to tell 
the story in great glee. When asked why they did not leave the 
saddle to be sent back instead of carrying it through the country 
on their shoulders, they would both hang their heads like guilty 
schoolboys, laugh heartily, and never explain. To their simple 
minds such a solution in fact never occurred. 

Mr. Martin became judge of the Circuit Court, and after- 
wards member of Congress from 1827 to 1831. He died Novem- 
ber 17, 1833. Mr. Petigru records the event in a feeling letter: 


Charleston, November 20, 1833. 
My Dear Legare: 

I write with a heavy heart, for I have met with a misfortune 
which I shall long and deeply feel in the death of our friend, 
Martin. The event was as sudden as it was cruel. We had 
been together all the week at Georgetown; left it last Saturday 
morning in the stage and crossed Milton Ferry about half after 
7 in the evening. In the morning he had complained of cold and 
again in the afternoon, and I thought he had a little fever, but 
he never was more cheerful, and the day passed as so many other 
days had passed between us, little thinking that it was his last. 
When we landed in town he resolved to go to Jones's, and said 
he would rather go there and take some medicine. On his prom- 
ising to come to my house next day I consented, and we parted 
never to meet again, for next morning he was found dead in his 
bed. It is impossible to describe, and difficult to imagine, the 
horror I felt when the message was brought me. I ran to him 
and could scarcely credit my senses when I found him a lifeless 
corpse. Never did death come more stealthily. His counten- 
ance was not the least changed; his head rested on his pillow in 
the attitude of repose and his eyes were closed as in tranquil 
sleep. But, oh! the change in the next twenty-four hours was 
awful. Blood gushed from his mouth and nostrils and the prog- 
ress of decay was so rapid that on Monday afternoon we were 
obliged to commit his remains to the ground. He was the earli- 
est friend that was left me, and for the last twenty years our 
intercourse was marked by mutual confidence that was never 
broken by the contentions of the bar nor lately by the more 
disastrous opposition of politics. To me his loss is great; to the 
country I fear it is calamitous. Calhoun is incessantly agitating. 
He lectures now on the necessity of a test oath. It is believed 
that the Legislature will pass a law imposing one. 

54 ^(/^5 Letters and Speeches 

A man with the brilliancy, originality and force of character 
of Mr. Petigru, practicing in a country court, must necessarily 
have left characteristic memories behind him. There are many 
stories of great antiquity which are localized and attributed to 
men of distinction and wit. Of these Mr. Petigru was a victim 
as were Webster, Lincoln, and others. A few incidents which 
occurred while he was a young lawyer in the Beaufort district 
may serve to illustrate the character of the man. 

He was always impatient of injustice and brutality and 
prompt to prevent them. On one occasion there was a fight 
going on in front of his office, under the very shadow of the 
temple of justice. A crowd surrounded the combatants; the 
affair was an enjoyment to the lookers-on and nobody interfered 
to stop it. Petigru's indignation was at last aroused by the 
savage sight and uproar. He broke through the crowd, seized 
one of the parties to the fight by his collar and waistband of his 
trousers, carried him off to the office, and dumped him on the 
floor with a stern injunction to keep the peace. 

At another time he was assailed in the courtyard with most 
violent abuse by a turbulent fellow of the village, who lavished 
on Petigru all the foul epithets and appellations he could remem- 
ber or invent, of which rogue and scoundrel were among the most 
moderate. The lawyer stood unmoved with a half smile of 
amusement on his face. At last, the bully having exhausted his 
ordinary vocabulary of abuse, bethought himself of the term of 
reproach which at that day comprised everything hateful; he 
called him " a damned Federal." Petigru's temper was naturally 
quick but he had it under complete control, though his anger 
when aroused was terrible. The word was no sooner uttered 
than a blow altogether unexpected by the brawler laid him in the 
sand. He became as quiet as a lamb and moved away without 
comment. A countryman standing near came up and took 
Petigru's hand and said, "Lawyer, when I looked at your little 
hand, I didn't believe you could have did it. " An old gentleman 
present, Mr. William Hutson, one of the remaining adherents of 
the defunct Federalist party, thought the proceeding an impu- 
tation on his old creed. "How is this," he said to Petigru; 
"you seem to think it a greater offence to be called a Federalist 
than to be called a rogue and a rascal.^" "Certainly," was the 
reply; "I incurred no injury by being called a rogue, for nobody 

James Louis Petigru SS 

believes the charge; but when he said I was a 'Federahst' he 
came too near the truth."* 

He incurred subsequently, in conducting a case, the wrath of 
a tall strapping fellow on the other side. They met a morning 
or two after at Corrie's Hotel. There was a long piazza where 
Petigru was walking up and down. The discontented person 
followed him to and fro, persisting in the vilest denunciations. 
At last Petigru turned round to him and said very deliberately, 
"Really, Barns, if I had a whip, I should be tempted to horse- 
whip you." "You would," said Barns; "stay a moment, I will 
go to the shop over the way and borrow one for you. " He went 
forthwith, and brought a whip, which he presented with a flour- 
ish of incredulity, defiance and mockery. In a moment he was 
in the clutches of the enemy, a powerful hand seized him by the 
collar, another brandished the whip, the blows fell fast on the 
legs of the astonished ruffian. The lookers-on were amused at 
his contortions to avoid the stripes, until at last he was pushed 
down the steps of the piazza with a parting kick and an admon- 
ition to return the whip to its owner, with Mr. Petigru's thanks 
for the use of it. 

With all the principles of an aristocrat, so far as a regard to the 
etiquette of society and the due obedience to established author- 
ity are concerned, he was accessible to all classes. His address 
was always pleasant. He delighted to talk with the country 
people and seemed to draw something out of the dullest, impart- 
ing at the same time pleasure to them. No one ever came near 
him without being better, wiser, and happier from the contact, 
and he was always prepared to help the needy and protect the 
wronged and distressed. 

Years after he had gone to Charleston and become famous he 
returned to Coosawhatchie to argue some great case. There at the 
hotel he met a friend of his earlier life, called Sam. He and his 
friend Sam had frolicked together; together they had chased deer 
in the swamps of the Coosawhatchie. His friend Sam had con- 
nected himself with a highly respectable denomination of Chris- 
tians, buthad"backslided" twice or thrice. Petigru knew it, and 
with outstretched hand he met his old friend Sam and exclaimed, 
"Why, Sam, how are you, and how is all the family?" "Thank 
God, Mr. Petigru, they are all well, and I am happy to inform 

*This was the way he told the story. 

56 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

you that since I last saw you my last son Tom [the wild boy of 
the family] has joined the church. " Mr. Petigru's eyes twinkled 
as he said, "Sam, I always knew that there was a sprig of piety 
in your family; but, Sam, it is not an evergreen." 

In later life he always enjoyed speaking of the days when they 
lived at Coosawhatchie, and often in court, when the opposing 
counsel was laying down what he supposed to be some profound 
principle of law, Mr. Petigru with affected humility would reply, 
"Gentlemen, that may be law in Philadelphia, but it was not 
law in Coosawhatchie." 

An examination of the records of the Court of Beaufort during 
that time shows that Mr. Petigru was engaged on one side or the 
other in all the most important cases that occurred, and there 
encountered the most distinguished lawyers of Georgia and 
South Carolina. 

The case of Daniel Neu, tried in September, 1861, furnishes 
another amusing anecdote of Mr. Petigru's forensic abilities. 
Neu lived at the cross-roads about five miles east of Badwell. 
Being a man of unknown antecedents, according to the common 
belief of the community he had been a pirate. If possible he 
could not have been worse. He owned a small farm and about 
fifteen negroes. His children of both colors grew up together in 
equal dirt and squalor. He so managed his farm that he always 
had two or three runaways, who fed and clothed the other 
negroes. At his trial he openly boasted that "one nigger in the 
bush was worth three in the field." By this system the neigh- 
bors were continuously pillaged. If a cow or a hog, or even the 
washing from the clothesline disappeared, the general explan- 
ation was that Daniel Neu's runaways had stolen them. Con- 
sequently, they became the terror of the neighborhood. Two 
of the unfortunates were finally captured. The people wanted 
to lynch them, but Mr. Petigru intervened and proposed to have 
them tried by law. He accordingly had the prisoners indicted 
as nuisances, and their owner for maintaining a nuisance. 

The trial took place in September, 1861, before Squire Trewit 
and a jury. Neu retained Mr. Edward Noble, one of the leading 
lawyers of Abbeville, to defend him. Mr. Petigru appeared for 
the prosecution. The trial is thus described by Hiram Palmer, 
who was one of the jurymen : 

"Lowyer Noble talked powerful strong; told us the law an' 

James Louis Petigru SI 

read it out of the books, the same as the gospel. Ever'thing 
looked shore all right for Dan'el. Jeams L. wus seated down 
an' lissened an' sometimes hit the floor with his stick. He then 
looked out the door, an' 'is face wus so pitiful we felt sorry for 
him an' thought that we wus shore beat. Bime-by Lowyer 
Noble gits through talkin'. Jeams L.git up. He bowed to the 
judge, an' he bowed to the jury an' ever'body very perlite. He 
didn't bring no books. He started easy like, an' said that his 
friend Lowyer Noble talked very nice, but all that he had read 
out of the books had nothin' to do with this case; an' before he 
had talked five minits he had Lowyer Noble's argyment busted 
wide open. He then begin to talk better'n any preacher I ever 
hear. " 

The decision of the court was that the unfortunate negroes 
were to be sold out of the State, and Daniel Neu was given orders 
"within thirty days to leave the State." He made a great dis- 
play of moving some of his belongings across the Savannah River 
into Georgia, but his family remained at the farm, to which it is 
said he frequently returned. 

58 ^^/^5 Letters and Speeches 


His Marriage and Religion 

The young lawyer of rising reputation, brilliant in conver- 
sation, and a writer of verse, has no long lease of freedom unless 
he is protected by the fear of a rich aunt or the guidance of a wise 
mother. Mr. Petigru had no one to warn or advise him, so his 
fortune was speedily decided. There lived near Coosawhatchie 
a frank, warmhearted planter. Captain James Postell, Jr., son 
of Colonel Postell of Abbeville. The Captain was one of the 
most hospitable of men and his house was among the first opened 
to Mr. Petigru when he came to Beaufort. He had a daughter 
of most alluring beauty. She was Jane Amelia Postell, one of 
the ladies to whom Mr. Petigru wrote poetry. She had attended 
the famous school of Miss Dattie, the most fashionable school of 
that day, who was succeeded by her niece. Madam Talvan. 
They had escaped the massacre of San Domingo in 1792, and 
came as refugees to Charleston. The young girls educated at 
this school learned, besides their lessons, good manners and 
absolute obedience. Jane Amelia Postell had a profusion of 
light auburn curly hair, and handsome dark eyes, a most brilliant 
complexion, and beautiful teeth; she was of medium height and 
graceful figure. Her manner was winning, impulsive, and of 
sparkling vivacity. She was somewhat willful and capricious in 
her mode of address. She was a Southern beauty, and in a small 
community once having been placed on the pedestal of a goddess 
the illusion forever remained. 

She was high spirited, admired genius and originality of char- 
acter, was just the woman to dare the chances of matrimony and 
face the uncertainties of fortune. 

She used to say that on the first occasion she saw Mr. Petigru, 
he was dancing with her mother, and she thought he was the most 
awkward man she had ever seen. His legs went in one direction 
and his arms in the other, regardless of the time of the music, 
and his face showed the greatest delight and self-satisfaction. 

James Louis Petigru 59 

At that time he would have given his little finger to have been 
able to dance gracefully. During the courtship, which must 
have dragged somewhat, she consulted her friend, Judge Huger, 
who said to her, "Jane, if Petigru ever asks you to marry him 
be sure to do so." 

In a short time Petigru's hopes were realized. The original 
marriage settlement shows that he and Miss Postell were mar- 
ried on August 17, 1816, by his old school teacher, Dr. Waddell, 
at the farm of her grandfather. Colonel Postell, not far from 

The maternal grandfather of Miss Postell was Paul Porcher, 
2d, the great grandson of the emigrant. He was the progen- 
itor of the Black Swamp Porchers. His brother, Peter, was the 
progenitor of the Santee Porchers. The Porchers were great 
people; and like many of the Huguenots of South Carolina, their 
genealogical records are to be found in the old books of heraldry. 

Paul Porcher, 2d, married Jinsey Jackson, July 6, 1775, and 
probably her people gave the name to the town of Jacksonboro, 
S. C* The other grandfather of Miss Postell, Colonel James 
Postell of Abbeville, had been an officer during the Revolution 
— one of Marion's right-hand men. On account of a bullet hole, 
whenever he drank water he had to apply his finger to his cheek. 
At the age of seventy, although many times a grandfather, this 
enterprising old soldier married the belle of the district. Miss 
Sally Birtwhistle, a handsome, dashing girl of sixteen. He 
always treated her with great consideration, and with pride 
spoke of her as "that young heifer." When he died he left her 
all his possessions. The widow afterwards married Mr. Huston, 
Her descendants are well-to-do people at Augusta, Georgia, who 
delight to speak of Mr. Petigru's visits and friendship for their 
mother, whom he always most deferentially hailed as "Grand- 

Mr. Petigru's gentle mother would have been pleased with 
her daughter-in-law beyond measure if she could have tempered 
a gay defiant nature and taste for fashionable life with something 
of the elder lady's constancy of spirit and quiet self-control. As 
it was, the bride charmed every one as she pleased, her young 

*See will of Captain John Jackson, probated January 5, 1724; and will of Cap- 
tain John Jackson, probated May, 1748; The S. C. Historical and Genealogical 
Magazine, Vol. XI, p. 13. 

60 J^ijs, Letters and Speeches 

sisters of the household especially, with her lively and unaffected 
manners and the grace and loveliness of her face and person. At 
the close of the summer the young couple returned to their home 
at Coosawhatchie. Here they were received by their dear friend 
Dr. Edward North, who afterward removed to Charleston. 
Dr. North occupied during the winter season a plantation near 
the town called Northampton, and the newly arrived pair from 
Abbeville spent their first winter after their marriage at his place. 
During the year 1818, at a hired house in Coosawhatchie, their 
eldest son Albert Porcher was born. Some time after the family 
removed to a new house built by Mr. Petigru himself in the out- 
skirts of the village. It stood on the main road about a mile 
south of the court-house; it was the best building of the neighbor- 
hood, and the successful architect of his own fortune took some 
pride in this portion of his handiwork. He used to say that he 
had made his mark in the village borders. It was the first 
trophy of success. The house passed from him to Dr. Francis Y. 
Porcher, a first cousin of his wife, and after changing hands several 
times finally disappeared, and its site during the Civil War was 
a camp and parade ground for troops of the Confederacy. 

At the end of 1819 Mr. Petigru's practice had greatly increased 
and by the urgent advice of many friends he removed from 
Coosawhatchie to Charleston. It was difficult for the young 
couple to find a suitable house at moderate rent, and here for 
some months they again found a temporary home with their 
steadfast friends, the Norths, who had preceded them in moving 
their household gods to the city. Their house was in Queen 

While here their second child was born, January 4, 1820, and 
called Jane Caroline, after Mrs. North. In two months from 
that time they took possession of the house in King Street near 
Smiths Lane; and each year, as their circumstances improved, 
they removed to better quarters. Their third removal was to a 
residence on South Bay, next door to Mrs. Grimke's. 

At this place, March 1, 1822, their second son was born and 
was named after his god-father, Daniel Elliot Huger. 

After two years they moved to Orange Street, nearly opposite 
to Mr. J. R. Pringle. 

It was here, October 25, 1824, that their youngest girl was 
added to the household, now including two sons and two daugh- 


James Louis Petigru 61 

ters. She was named Susan Dupont, after her god-mother, the 
most intimate friend of Mrs. Petigru. 

On August 27, 1826, Mr. Petigru was elected solicitor for St. 
Michael's Church, and subsequently he became a vestryman. 
He continued to exercise both functions for the remainder of his 

A deed dated 15th of June, 1829, shows that James H. Ladson 
sold pew No. 79 for $600 to James L.Petigru.* 

Mr. Petigru was by nature emotional, passionate and deeply 
religious. His course through life was marked by self-denial, 
devotion to truth, and a reverence for all the great historical 
churches. He inherited from his Huguenot ancestor a spirit 
of martyrdom, but his mind was too catholic for the Calvinistic 
creed in which he was nurtured. He no doubt understood much 
of the science of theology, but he was not a blind follower of eccle- 
siasticism or theological dogma. He was an humble follower of 
Christ and his religion was on a plane far above ignorant bigotry. 
He was a constant worshiper in the Episcopal church although 
he never became a communicant. 

*The original records show: "I, Sarah Gibbes, for and in consideration of the 
love and affection I bear unto my son, Louis Ladson Gibbes, have given * * * 
my pew in St. Michael's Church, situated on the north side of said church. 
* * * " Dated 9th day of November, 1816. In 1826 Louis L. Gibbes, of 
Pendleton, sells pew No. 79, on the north side of St. Michael's Church, to James 
H. Ladson for 5500. 

62 J-^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 



Law Practice in Charleston; Law Office and Garden; 


The change from Coosawhatchle to the city was made easy 
by an offer of partnership with his friend James Hamilton, Jr.* 
Colonel Drayton had been elected Recorder of the City of 
Charleston and had transferred to Mr. James Hamilton, Jr., a 
large portion of his business at the bar. Mr. Hamilton was a 
person of great personal magnetism, brilliancy of speech, and a 
keen manager of political parties. He was sanguine, visionary, 
and given to speculations, and he was not a thoroughly read 
lawyer. The partnership was, therefore, mutually advantage- 
ous — the one found the business, and the other the principles of 
law. From this partnership originated the most dramatic and 
serious events of the life of Mr. Petigru. 

The removal to Charleston was a great step in advance. At 
that time the population of the city was about 25,000 — 14,000 
of whom were blacks. It ranked fifth in population, and third 
in point of commercial importance among the cities of the Union. 
Although not offering the same opportunities as it had offered 
immediately after the Revolution, it still afforded high prizes 
for both reputation and fortune. 

The Bar of Charleston was considered among the first in the 
land. It was composed of such men as Hayne, Grimke, Drayton, 
Mitchell, King, Bailey, Simons — men of the highest culture and 
attainments, who gave purity and dignity to the practice and 
profession of the law. 

The records show that on January 1, 1820, William Drayton 
sold to James Hamilton, Jr., a lot in St. Michael's alley, 35 feet 
front by 45 feet deep, for $2,500. The ofl^ce of Mr. Petigru was 
ever afterwards at this location. 

*He was the son of Major James Hamilton, of the Revolution, who married the 
widow of John Harleston, of " The Villa" Plantation on Cooper River; she was 
the sister of Thos. Lynch, Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence. 

'James Louis Petigru 63 

The young firm was not at once overburdened with business. 
Mr. Petigru often remarked in after Hfe that he was indebted 
to the good people of Charleston for much of the leisure to pur- 
sue his studies during his first two years at the bar in the city. 

The following is a characteristic and rather significant letter 
which he writes to Mrs. Elizabeth A. Yates, August 13, 1822, 
regarding her son, J. D. Yates, a law student in his ofiice: 


As you have recommended him to my care I will henceforth 
look on him as more particularly in my charge and not simply to 
supply the place of a monitor to him, if any occasion for the 
exercise of that authority should present itself. 

I am not, however, friendly to the plan of lecturing the young 
on all occasions, nor do I think it good policy to give advice 
often when it is not asked. But he will find a friend in me while 
his behavior is commendable, and when it is not (if that should 
ever be the case) I will use the authority which you have en- 
trusted to me of admonishing him of his errors. 

In 1822 Hamilton, as Intendant of the City, rendered himself 
exceedingly popular in the State by his energy and firmness in 
circumventing a threatened insurrection of the negroes. This 
insurrection had been organized by Denmark Vesey,* and GuUah 
Jack, an African who was considered by his people to be " voodoo 
man," and consequently immortal. At the end of this year 
Hamilton was elected to Congress and Robert Y. Hayne, who 
was Attorney-General of the State, was elected to the United 
States Senate. Mr. Petigru was then elected by the Legislature 
to the office of Attorney-General. 

It was an office of profit, influence and dignity, and made him 
legal adviser of the State authorities and the official head of the 
entire bar. His presence was required at the capital with the 
State solicitors during the sessions of the Legislature,! and every 
bill introduced had to be scrutinized by these officials as to the 
efficiency of its form and style before it became a law. The 
consequence was that the statutes of South Carolina, for eight 
years, could challenge a comparison with those of any other State 
in language and structure. 

*A West Indian mulatto, who had bought his freedom by winning a prize, in one 
of the many lotteries of the day, of six thousand dollars. 

fThe Attorney-General at that time performed the duties of Solicitor at Charles- 
ton and Georgetown. 

64 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

His practice at the bar was not always pleasant. He had 
many opponents. Many of them were fully disposed to observe 
in the conflict those courtesies of practice that always prevailed. 
But there was one exception. 

Benjamin Faneuil Hunt was born at Watertown, Massachu- 
setts, on the 20th of February, 1793, and died in New York on 
the 5th of September, 1857. He was a graduate of Harvard. 
In 1810 he moved to Charleston on account of his health, where 
he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1813. He was a 
Union man during the Nullification struggle, and as colonel of a 
regiment in 1833 he insisted on applying the test oath, which was 
decided to be unconstitutional. Benjamin Faneuil Dunkin, 
afterwards Chief Justice, his first cousin, came to Charleston in 
1812. He adopted the politics of the country, and in 1837 
became Judge of the Court of Chancery. He married Miss 
Prentiss and a number of descendants perpetuate the name. 

It is said that when Mr. Hunt first came to Carolina he showed 
in the conduct of some of his earliest cases what was supposed 
by some to be a lack of spirit. It is a matter of tradition that 
on hearing of this his cousin, Mr. Dunkin, sent him the message, 
"If you expect to stay in this State, you must fight." The 
message wrought an immediate transformation. He flew at 
once into the opposite extreme and became thereafter off'ensively 
aggressive, and even to-day he is spoken of as "Bully Hunt." 
We learn from Mr. Grayson that he was an able speaker and 
good lawyer; bold, rude, regardless of respect to opposing counsel, 
witnesses or clients, and unscrupulous as to the language in 
which he expressed his contempt; skilled in cajoling the jury and 
bullying the judge, a little sensitive as to his own feelings and 
utterly without regard to the feelings of others. One purpose 
only seemed to govern him, that of gaining his case at all hazards. 
He was a formidable adversary, and the lawyers of the old school 
were reluctant to encounter his rude assaults. 

But in the newcomer from the country court he found no 
reluctant adversary — a deeper intellect than his own, a stronger 
moral nature, a resolute persistency of spirit that nothing could 
daunt, weary or deceive. No craft evaded Petigru's vigilance. 
No show of violence stopped his resolute exposure of irregularity 
in his opponent's practice. The contest went on month after 
month. It assumed the most threatening forms. It seemed, 

James Louis Petigru 65 

indeed, as if the death alone of one of the parties could put an 
end to the struggle. A challenge passed at one time, but the 
feud had a sudden and unexpected ending. By a terrible acci- 
dent Mr, Petigru lost his eldest son. Mr. Hunt addressed a note 
of sympathy to the afflicted parent and requested that the an- 
tagonism between them should cease. Mr. Hunt, speaking to 
the Honorable Joseph D. Pope in after years of Mr. Petigru's 
power as an orator, used the following language: "His learning 
is great; but it is not that. His reasoning faculty is large; but 
it is not that. It is his quaint, original, magnetic eloquence. 
When his feelings are enlisted he is the greatest public speaker 
I have ever heard, and I have heard them all." 

Mr. Petigru had prepared for his duel with Hunt with his usual 
industry and determination. He bought from Hapholdt — the 
best gunmaker in the country — a practice dueling pistol for one 
hundred dollars. It had an eleven-inch barrel, hair trigger, and 
carried a one ounce ball. In being rifled it differed from the reg- 
ular dueling pistol. He practiced diligently and became a good 

Some thirty years after this event one of the boys found the 
pistol in the drawer of an old secretary at Badwell. Of course 
he must give it a trial. While engaged in shooting at the mark 
Mr. Petigru happened to pass. He asked to see the pistol, which 
he examined with great care and interest, saying that it reminded 
him of many years ago. The boy bantered him to try a shot; 
he adjusted the hair trigger carefully and at the word fired. 
He put the ball in the center of the sapling about fifty feet dis- 
tant. The boy wanted him to try again but he laughed and said: 
"My young friend, you will find that when you have made a 
lucky hit, it is a good rule to leave well enough alone. You will 
find the statement illustrated by my friend Judge Longstreet* 
in 'Georgia Scenes.'" Then sitting on the carpenter's bench 
under the walnut-tree, with great humor in voice and gesture, 
he repeated the story of Billy Curlew and Soap-stick from Long- 
street's book. 

The pistol was by accident saved during the war. It is still 
in good condition and is preserved by a member of his family as 
one of the few remaining relics of Mr. Petigru. 

*A. B. Longstreet, LL. D., a pupil at Dr. Waddell's Academy, and afterwards 
President of South Carolina College. 

66 -^(/^^j Letters and Speeches 

In the year 1829 General Joseph W. AUston, of Georgetown, 
S. C, was placed, both as magistrate and as general of the mil- 
itia, in a position of great responsibility, by an attempted insur- 
rection among the negro slaves. Troops and arms were sent 
from Charleston, and for a time great alarm was felt throughout 
the State. Order was promptly restored, but the task of dis- 
covering, trying and punishing the ringleaders was slow and 

AUston seems to have written to Mr. Petigru, the Attorney- 
General, to ask if the Clerk of Court could, ex officio, act as one 
of the magistrates on the Freeholders' Court. This Mr. Petigru 
seems to doubt, and writes thus under date of April 17, 1829: 

I am sorry that your labors are so arduous. I think the Gov- 
ernor should be called on to appoint more magistrates, and if 
names were recommended to him he would no doubt do so. But 
then they would not be obliged to accept. 

I am afraid you will hang halt the country. You must take 
care and save negroes enough for the rice crop. It is to be con- 
fessed that your proceedings have not been bloody as yet, but 
the length of the investigation alarms us with apprehension that 
you will be obliged to punish a great many. 

In the newspapers of the day we find Petigru's name con- 
stantly mentioned as attending meetings and making speeches for 
a survey of the South Carolina Railroad, and for a drainage canal 
connecting the Ashley and Cooper rivers, and for various pur- 
poses which would promote the welfare of the city. 

The poor and oppressed found him a zealous and untiring 
friend, and he was ever ready to espouse the cause of some poor 
woman, the victim of a hard system, and most generally not able 
to pay anything for his services. The rights of the free negroes 
he was always defending. He was the champion to whom they 
flew as a sure refuge. In some of the adjoining parishes, notably 
on Goose Creek, there were many unfortunate men accused of 
having negro blood in their veins. He established their claim to 
being white, and in later years they showed their gratitude 
by always voting with him, and were known as the "Goose 
Creekers whom he had whitewashed." 

He continued to perform his official and other duties, and as 
he expressed it, "My success has been at least equal to my de- 
serts." The country since the War of 1812 had been quiet and 

'James Louis Peligru 67- 

prosperous, but during the last decade serious political changes 
had occurred. In 1828 the ill-judged "tariff of abominations" 
had been passed and the discontent and irritation of the people 
which had long been smouldering brought forth the explosion 
of Nullification. It divided the States, parties, and friends. 
The position of Mr. Petigru, as the disciple of Alexander Hamil- 
ton, a Federalist, and as one who considered the Union sacred, 
was well known. Therefore, considering the imminent danger 
of the country, and in compliance with the wishes of his friends, 
he in 1830 resigned the office of Attorney-General and became a 
candidate for the State Senate. 

The law office in St. Michael's Alley before and since the War 
has always been associated with Mr. Petigru. But according 
to tradition it was in Colonial times the favorite place for the 
gallants of those days to hold their meetings. 

In 1820 William Drayton* sold to Hamilton and Petigru a plot 
in St. Michael's Alley, ?>S feet front by 45 feet deep, for ^2,500; 
and three years later Hamilton sold his share to Petigru. Mr. 
Petigru occupied this building until 1848, when finding it incon- 
venient for his business and many students, he decided to build 
a new office. He accordingly bought an adjoining lot 29 by 49 feet 
for $1,200, employed Mr. E. B. Whitef as architect, and com- 
menced building in October, 1848. 

The new office covered a space 47 feet by 25 feet; was two 
stories high; of rough cast brick; and followed in miniature the 
graceful lines of a Greek temple. 

Petigru occupied the large room on the second floor. It was 
surrounded by book shelves from floor to ceiling. The furniture 
consisted of a large mahogany table, some chairs and a step-lad- 
der. On one side of the room was his writing-desk; he always 
stood up when he wrote because he considered it self-indulgence 
to do so sitting down. Johnston Pettigrew used the adjoining 
room. The lower floor was occupied by his partner, the students 
and law clerks. On the 7th of May, 1849, Mr. Petigru occupied 
the new office. His daughter, Mrs. Carson, describing the 
installation, says: "He waited for me to come from Dean Hall 

*Recorded, books F. and M. 9, pages 146 and 176. 

fMr. White graduated at West Point in the class of 1826. The works that he 

left behind him show that he was a skilled architect. 

68 T^iJ^^ Letters and Speeches 

to help him move and arrange the books. Sue joined to make 
it a party of pleasure and summoned Lowndes, Miles, Hayne, 
et al., as assistants. We pasted Mr. Petigru's name in each of 
the good and new books; and as we read the price of them, — one 
pound, two pounds, and oftentimes more, — Sue would protest 
and lament so much should be paid for a dry law book which 
would have bought her so much finery. There was a crest Mr. 
Petigru had chosen, a crane, and a motto I forget, with his name, 
which I mostly pasted myself in each book." 

In 1864 Mr. Lesesne as executor sold the building and land for 
$14,000 Confederate money, equivalent at that time to about 
one-fifth of its cost. For a number of years after the war it was 
occupied as a dwelling by negroes. It has recently been reno- 
vated and converted into a small modern flat. 

From a letter from Chancellor Lesesne we find that in 1863 
the office building being directly in the line of the shelling of the 
town, Mr. Petigru's books were packed, and with a number of 
tin boxes containing the papers labelled with the clients' names, 
were transported to Columbia and placed in the library room of 
the Euphradian Society of the South Carolina College and the 
door locked. There they remained safely during the War. 
After the fall of Columbia, 1865, the key was demanded by 
Colonel Haughton and delivered to him. The military occupied 
the building. The library room of the Society was on the third 
story. The two lower stories were used as guard rooms and 
sentinels were always posted in the passages at the doors. 

In the following November it was found that the door had 
been forced open, the lock broken, the books scattered; many of 
them with covers torn off, tattered and defaced; the tin boxes 
had disappeared and their contents lay scattered over the floor, 
soiled and torn. The matter was reported to General Ames, 
who expressed great regret at the outrage; he remarked that the 
troops had become demoralized and were not under control. 
Through his efforts a few boxes, books and papers were recov- 

In 1867, out of respect for Mr. Petigru, Congress bought his 
Law Library — the money, five thousand dollars, to be applied 
expressly for the use of his wife. The books were placed in the 
Capitol Library at Washington. 

Mrs. Carson writes: " In after years when I visited the Capitol 

James Louis Petigru 69 

at Washington I was shocked to see the shabby appearance of 
the books. Many of the fine calf-skin bindings had been torn, 
and at least one-third of them had been stolen in Columbia. At 
the ragged remnant I was ashamed to look, whereas I had ex- 
pected to be proud." 

Mr. Petigru's tastes led him to make a garden opposite his 
law office, this being the only indulgence he ever permitted him- 
self in the course of a long life devoted to the welfare of others. 

In 1841 he bought a lot 96 feet front by 86 feet deep, for ?5,250, 
so that the garden must have been commenced at the period 
when he was beginning to see his way out of debt. 

The two brick buildings on the site were removed, and in the 
yard there happened to be a handsome magnolia tree which was 
retained and became a prominent feature of the garden. The 
side of the alley was enclosed by an iron fence mounted on a 
brick foundation, and the entrance was between two massive 
pillars of brick which supported a heavy iron gate. The sur- 
rounding walls were covered with ivy. 

For the purpose of erecting a conservatory, in 1851 he bought 
an adjoining house and lot, 17 by 41 feet, for 3600. 

But here again his character displayed itself. An old cobbler 
lived in the house which he desired to pull down; but he would 
not turn out this old man and he not only suffered the daily vex- 
ation of the ugly old building which marred the effect of his 
beautiful garden, but he prolonged the life of the old man by 
giving him maintenance. 

From old receipts it is found that in after years he employed 
Webb, a professional gardener, at an annual salary of $150, to 
supervise the work of the negro gardeners. At a conservative 
estimate this garden must have cost for land, construction, etc., 
$8,000, and for annual maintenance and taxes, $200. 

Every morning before work he visited it and gave minor direc- 
tions to the workmen, and often during the day he could be seen 
walking there like Plato in the groves of the Academy. Some- 
times he would be twisting a lock of his dark brown hair, or 
again with both hands behind his back and as was his wont 
always talking to himself, either repeating poetry or studying 
out the argument of some case. 

Any strange plants that he found in the woods he immediately 
transferred to the garden for cultivation, and often he would 

70 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

send a specimen to Professor Louis R. Gibbes, a universal scien- 
tist, with a note requesting the botanical name and " that he 
would pardon the curiosity of his ignorant friend." 

In his law practice if an old Union man got into a scrape Mr. 
Petigru was ever ready to extend to him a hand of encouragement 
or assistance. In this way he gave his professional aid to a 
Union man in the case of the State versus James Clark. It was 
imputed to Clark that he was of negro blood. There were many 
people in the Goose Creek section who had been accused in the 
same way. They were all Union men. Mr. Petigru defended 
James Clark's citizenship and political rights. After one or two 
witnesses had been heard on the part of the State, Captain Rear- 
den, a man of portly mien with a broad good-humored face, was 
placed on the stand. Attorney-General Bailey inquired whether 
the witness knew James Clark. " Certainly, " he replied; " know 
him well." "Is he a white man?" "No." "Do you know his 
mother.''" "Yes." "Is she white or negro?" "Nigger." 
And the examination ended on the part of the State. 

Mr. Petigru then commenced the cross-examination in his 
usual deliberate fashion: "Captain Rearden, I am told that you 
have the honor to fill an important office in the service of the 
State. " " I do not know what you mean, Mr. Petigru. " " Well 
then, to be more definite, you hold the commission of captain of 
a company in the militia of South Carolina?" "Yes, sir; held 
it ever since I was twenty-one. " "Has James Clark ever turned 
out in the ranks under your command?" "Always, sir, never 
missed; regular as anybody." "Very well. You were one of 
the judges of election also, I believe. Captain Rearden?" "Just 
so; always am; they will appoint me at Columbia all I can do." 
"Have you ever, while serving as judge, received James Clark's 
vote at the polls?" "Certainly, sir; he always votes punctually 
just like he musters; never fails." "That will do," said Petigru; 
" I have nothing more to ask. " " But, sir, " the Captain replied 
hurriedly, suspecting something amiss, "stop, sir; maybe you do 
not understand; let me explain, sir. In each parish everybody 
musters and everybody votes, except the field hands. That is 
the reason, sir, the Union party, you know, always beat us at 
elections." The explanation was made with perfect simplicity. 
The Captain merely assigned the mode in which his party was 
defeated, without suspecting apparently there was anything 

James Louis Petigru 71 

amiss in it. It was the approved custom of his parish against 
which he had no notion of protesting. He was anxious only that 
Mr. Petigru should understand the nature and extent of their 

*Grayson, page 133. 

72 L.ije^ Letters and Speeches 


Misfortunes; his Sisters, and Social Life 

About 1826 Petigru removed to the house in Broad street, 
afterwards occupied by Dr. Frost. While here there occurred 
within a few days three of the severest trials of his life. He was 
about to fight a duel, his eldest son was killed by accident, and 
his mother died. 

The following letter, in language beautiful in its simplicity, 
describes the death of the child and the soul of a strong man in 


Charleston, 13 September, 1826. 
My dear Sister: 

No hand but mine must write what God knows is hard for 
me to write. My Albert, — yes, Albert the child of my heart is 
dead. And dead, too, in such a way. He fell from the head of 
the stair case down to the first floor, on Monday about a quarter 
before 12 o'clock. You know how fond he was of climbing; he 
had mounted upon the banister; there was nobody in the house 
but the servants; none saw him but Becky; he was supporting 
one foot on a small board that leaned against the balustrade on 
the top step; the board was merely tacked to the balustrade; it 
had been there before we came into the house; one leg he threw 
over the banister; he supported one foot on this little board; it 
gave way, and my poor child fell to the bottom. I suppose it is 
thirty feet. He gave one scream, as he fell, but no scream when 
he reached the floor. The noise was heard at Mr. White's and 
Mrs. Gibbes'; the servants raised a cry; the house was filled with 
people; they took him up as dead; they rubbed him, they applied 
salts and he breathed. It was ten minutes before I came. 
Judge of my horror when I kneeled down by the side of the couch 
on which he was lying, spoke to him, — him to whom I never spoke 
that he did not answer before, looked into those eyes that had been 
so bright a moment before, and saw nothing but stony insensi- 
bility in them. Two physicians. Dr. Ramsay and Dr. Campbell, 
had already come; Dr. Porcher and Dr. North came afterwards. 
Then before Dr. North came your sister; she was carried away 
insensible, and I remained stupid, in horror. Life seemed to 
return by slow degrees, and then they gave us hope, but I knew 

'James Louis Petigru 73 

it was hoping against hope, still my heart received and caught 
at it. After bleeding him he was carried up stairs, and then we 
waited, you may suppose how, to see if sensibility and life would 
return, after this state of torpor was over. Susan Webb and Mr. 
Morris sat with him; I was with them that night. As for your 
sister she needed a nurse, instead of discharging the office of one. 
I was even so far comforted by the accounts of others who had 
recovered from monstrous blows, that I slept 2 hours that night 
on the sofa, but the morning came, Tuesday morning, he was 
worse, and again I felt the torture which words can not describe. 
I wanted to write to you then, but I could not do it while in such 
awful suspense. Again I was doomed to feel the deceitfulness 
of hope. At the end of 24 hours after the injury, Tuesday a little 
before twelve, he showed signs of consciousness, and even showed 
he knew me, and moved his hand to head to tell me where his 
pain was. Oh God, how my heart bounded when the poor child 
looked at me and I saw in those eyes the proof of consciousness 
and that he knew me. But it was for a moment only; he re- 
turned to the same torpid state and in spite of all the physicians 
could do, who left no means untried, he expired this morning at 
20 minutes before 1, having lived almost 37 hours, but never 
having spoken. With him all was over in an instant, the mo- 
ment of his fall was the last he knew. Your sister is prostrated. 
She still calls for Albert, her Albert; and then when that wild fit 
is over complains that she can not bring her mind to think that 
he is dead. I am crushed. It is the first blow I have ever had. 
But the repeated disappointments that the changes in his state 
during those 37 hours had inflicted on me, made me realize the 
event when it came. They laid him out and he looked beautiful. 
I kneeled down by him, and uttered this prayer: — "Oh God, I 
thank Thee that thou didst bestow on me this child, and suffered 
him to remain with me during 8 years and upwards, as a most 
sweet companion; and now thou hast made him an angel of light. 
Grant, oh Father, that his parents may be prepared to follow him 
to thy Presence." I now feel easier. I have gone through this 
narrative for you and mother and father, the little girls and Tom, 
and my own poor children that are with you. We don't know 
how we will bring them now. My wife can't think of going, 
because one of the last things he did — he was writing a letter to 
Caroline, she shall see it when she comes, and since we talked of 
going, he constantly asked to be allowed to go with us. I have 
written all, my tears have stopped, and I feel better. Adieu. 

Your Brother. 
Wednesday, 12 o'clock. 

The boy was the greatest pride of his father; his loss was a 
sorrow from which he never recovered. On the anniversary of. 

74 J^ije^ Letters and Speeches 

his death, ever afterwards, he withdrew from all society and in 
absolute seclusion communed with his own heart. 

Calamities never come singly, and the day after the death of 
his son, his mother died. He had loved her all his life with great 
tenderness and with reverent devotion that could not be sur- 
passed. She had led a life of patient sacrifice, devoted to the 
love and training of her children. On her tomb at Badwell we 
find inscribed: 

To the memory 


Mrs. Louise Petigru 

Nee Gibert 

Born in Charleston, 14th September 


Died on this farm where she had 

spent more than forty years of her life 

14th, September 1826 

This memorial is placed by her 

children who are indebted to her 

for a virtuous education to which 

her own excellent example 

contributed the best of lessons. 

Mr. Petigru and his wife immediately hastened to Badwell to 
give sympathy and aid. The household consisted of his father, 
and his five sisters, ranging in age from twenty-six to twelve 

His brother, Jack, had been sent west to seek his fortune. 

His second brother, Thomas, had entered the Navy as mid- 
shipman in 1812. 

His third brother, Charles, whom he had educated, was a cadet 
at West Point, where he graduated in the famous class of 1829. 

His chief concern was about his sisters. They all showed their 
French origin and were handsome, bright and attractive. In 
passing, it may be said that the physiognomy of the brothers was 
distinctly Irish. 

He desired to take the three youngest girls to his home and 
consulted his wife on the subject. It was no small matter to ask 
a young woman devoted to fashionable society and amusement, 
to receive into her household three green country girls whom she 

James Louis Petigru IS 

hardly knew. But she cheerfully rose to the occasion and agreed 
not only to receive them, but to welcome them. Accordingly, 
leaving the two elder sisters with their father at Badwell, he 
brought the three younger — Louise, eighteen; Adele, sixteen, and 
Harriet, twelve — to his home in Charleston. They became his 
constant companions, and on his return home at night, after a 
hard day's work, he devoted himself to their entertainment and 
amusement. With parental affection he attended to their very 
liberal education; he watched over their future happiness, and 
was their guide, philosopher and friend even after they were 
established in life. 

One of these sisters always spoke with enthusiasm of the way 
in which Mrs. Petigru did everything to make them feel at home 
and happy. 

In 1827 he bought a summer residence at the east end of Sulli- 
vans Island. This he used until 1843, when he moved to the 
more convenient west end of the island to a house, heavily mort- 
gaged, that he obtained from General James Hamilton, Jr., in 
exchange for a debt. 

His eldest sister, Jane, married on 13th of August, 1827, John 
Gough North, the son of Dr. North, who was Petigru's friend 
when he practiced law at Coosawhatchie. 

On the occasion of her marriage, Petigru wrote as follows: 


Sullivans Island, 31st August, 1827. 
My dear Jane. 

The last mail brought your letter from Pendleton informing us 
that you were no longer Jane Petigru. Well — I hope you will 
have the grace to be a good wife, and that your husband may 
give a good account of you. I have no idea that a woman should 
marry at all, unless she is willing to devote herself heart and soul 
to promote the good of her husband. Men have many ways to 
show themselves clever fellows — the service of the State in peace 
and war; politics and religion, all are before them to choose, and 
if one shines in these, a moderate neglect of home and family is 
by the consent of mankind conceded to him. But a woman, if 
she has a sense of virtue and honor, is to show it, like Solomon's 
good wife, in rising betimes and setting her maidens to work. I 
hope you are now quite well, and North too. It is rather a bad 
beginning that you should have been both sick this summer. 
But the summer is now drawing to a close and your bad begin- 
ning will come, I hope, to a good ending. Charleston is really 

76 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

very sickly and I am glad that we were not there when the sick- 
ness commenced. It is not on account of the yellow fever only 
that it is to be shunned, but there is a prevalence of disease. I 
was in town on Monday; saw Dr. North, who seemed to be as 
much worsted by fatigue as I ever knew him; he told me that he 
had paid the day before 42 visits. * * * Your sister has not 
been of late so well as she was at first. She has had headaches 
of late, but still they are not as distressing as she used to have in 
town and she thinks highly of the Island, so that it is probable 
that we shall come here again. Make me kindly remembered 
to Mr. and Mrs. North and assure your Mr. North of my regard. 
Adieu my dear sister. 

Your Brother. 

In 1828 Mr. Petigru's final move was to the southwest corner 
of Broad and Friend street, now Legare street. There he bought 
a house and lot. The house was fifty by fifty feet, two stories 
and an attic, with piazzas at each story on the front and back, 
extending two-thirds the length of the house. The lower portion 
was built on brick walls; the rest was of wood. It had a gabled 
roof, of slate, and dormer windows. One entered the hall, 
twelve feet wide, from which a staircase with mahogany rails led 
to the top of the house. On the right of the hall was the parlor; 
to the left were two rooms, the front being used for a dining room. 
The upper floor was divided in the same way. The rooms were 
large with ceilings twenty feet high. In each room there was 
an open fireplace, and to warm the house must have been difficult, 
but in those days it was considered very comfortable. 

The lot was ninety-five by one hundred and thirty-nine feet, 
surrounded by high brick walls on the top of which, according 
to the Barbadoes practice, were broken glass bottles supposed to 
keep out marauders. In the yard there was a brick stable and 
carriage house, and other brick buildings, for the numerous 
domestics and hangers-on; the attic of one of these buildings was 
constructed as a wine loft. 

In those days it was the custom for the head of the house, fol- 
lowed by his servant with a large basket, to go to the market, 
especially on Saturday morning, to make his purchases for the 
Sunday dinner. On one occasion Mr. Petigru met Mr. A. hag- 
gling about paying a dollar for a beautiful wild turkey. Mr. A. 
finally decided that he would not buy it as he had no one to cook 
it, upon which Mr. Petigru with great glee said, "As my daugh- 
ters have been brought up in the kitchen I will buy the turkey." 

James Louis Petigru 11 

One of the greatest delights of his home life was to bring home 
to dinner any friend whom he might casually meet. Hugh S. Le- 
gare, William Harper, William D. Martin, James R. Pringle, 
Alfred Huger, and others were his frequent guests. On one of 
these occasions a countryman, a friend of his boyhood, dined 
there in company with many distinguished guests, and contin- 
ued, during the dinner, to address Mr. Petigru as 'Jim.' " When 
the guests had departed one of his sisters remonstrated with him 
for permitting such familiarity. "Ah, my dear," said he, "if 
you only knew how few people there are who call me 'Jim.' " 

He led the life of a hard-working lawyer. Breakfast at nine; 
dinner at three, and then again to the office, remaining there 
often till midnight. In the winter he lived in the city; in the 
summer he removed his family to Sullivans Island. 

Here, while other people amused themselves either by driving 
or sailing, he was to be seen about sunset alone in the Episcopal 
Church yard, bent over pulling up cockspurs, for which he had 
a pet aversion; at the same time always talking to himself. On 
Saturdays he would occasionally go fishing; though not much of 
a fisherman he enjoyed the fish caught by his friends and was 
always the life and soul of the party. During July and August 
he went to Abbeville for vacation, which he enjoyed like a school 
boy. Sunday was a day of rest and recreation. 

He usually had a dinner party when he received his friends and 
the many distinguished strangers who brought letters to him. 
His cook was a noted artist; and his dinners were seasoned with 
an unfailing supply of humor and wit which all remembered 
with delight. 

The old house in Broad street was the scene of his boundless 
hospitality until it was burned by the great fire in 1861. 

On the 13th of October, 1829, his third sister, Louise, was 
married at Badwell to P. J. Porcher of Fairlawn Plantation, 
Cooper River. 

The ordinary routine of his social life was disturbed at the end 
of 1830, when, much against his will, he was forced into politics. 

78 ^(/^5 Letters and Speeches 



Defeated as Union Candidate for State Senator; 
Work of the Union Party 

The views of Mr. Petigru were well known. He was abso- 
lutely opposed to nullification and secession, which he considered 
a revolution that would lead to war. He looked upon the teach- 
ing of the leaders as madness and a snare and delusion destruc- 
tive to the happiness and welfare of the people. To him the 
Union and the Constitution were things sacred. In a letter on 
this subject, he wrote: "The success of going out of the Union 
at will demonstrates the fallacy of attempting to combine the 
principle of unity with that of the separate independence of the 
States, and makes the Constitution a cobweb, and when it comes 
to be so considered it will be despised and disowned, and a gen- 
eral disintegration must follow." He often declared that under 
the Constitution each State and each citizen enjoys the largest 
amount of independence, freedom, and happiness, and that its 
only fault was that it was too good for human nature to bear. 

He was recognized as a leader of the Union party, but always 
with great modesty, in all the movements he placed in the front 
rank the name of Mr. Poinsett, Mr. Drayton or some of his other 
friends. Some of the prominent members of the Union party 
did lean towards "States' Rights," a doctrine always flattering 
to the southern mind. State rights aside from the Union he 
could not abide. He was essentially conservative, but a 
thorough Democrat. The majority of the Roman Republic 
was always in his mind, but to Demos he never bent. 

The people were all enemies of the tariff system, but divided 
on the subject of nullification. A great dinner given at the 
Hibernian Hall, Charleston, was made the occasion of publicly 
arraigning prominent men upon the question of nullification. 
Mr. Petigru, although closely allied in business with James 
Hamilton, Jr., a supporter of nullification, refused to attend, 
and William Gilmore Simms, then editing the City Gazette* 

♦July 1, 1830. 

'James Louis Petigru 79 

called attention to the fact that while the voting strength of the 
city was 2,800 only 430 tickets were taken up by the doorkeepers 
at the dinner. 

The leaders of the Free Trade States' Rights party were James 
Hamilton, Jr., Robert Y. Hayne, H. L. Pinckney, R. J. Turn- 
bull ("Brutus"), George McDuffie, William C. Preston and 
others. These were known as Nullifiers; and their enemies 
called them "fire eaters." They were all disciples of Calhoun. 

The leaders of the Union States' Rights party were J. R. 
Poinsett, William Drayton, J. R. Pringle, Judge D. E. Huger, 
J. L. Petigru, B. F. Hunt, B. F. Dunkin, Henry Middleton; and 
of the younger men were H. S. Legare, C. G. Memminger, Rich- 
ard Yeadon. They were known as "Unionists," and also 
taunted as "submissionists." 

The following letters of Mr. Petigru show the condition of 
affairs at this time. 

In a letter of 1830, he says to an old friend of the opposite 

You and I will never dispute much on politics, and not at all 
on anything else. There is less difference between us than 
between some who are on the same side. Nevertheless, we dif- 
fer more than I ever supposed we would about anything. I am 
devilishly puzzled to know whether my friends are mad, or I 
beside myself. Let us hope we shall make some discovery before 
long which will throw some light on the subject and give the 
people the satisfaction of knowing whether they are in their 
right minds. When poor Judge W. used to fancy himself a 
teapot, people thought he was a hypochondriac; but there are in 
the present day very good heads filled with notions that seem to 
me not less strange. That we are treated like slaves, that we are 
slaves in fact, that we are worse than slaves and made to go on 
all fours, are stories that seem to me very odd, and make me 
doubt whether I am not under some mental eclipse, since I can't 
see what is so plain to others. But I am not surprised that the 
people have been persuaded they are ill used by the government. 
Old Hooker says, 'Tf any man will go about to persuade the 
people that they are badly governed, he will not fail to have 
plenty of followers. " And I am inclined to think that the better 
the polity under which men live, the easier it is to persuade them 
they are cruelly oppressed. 

Again in another letter, in the year 1830, he saysif 

♦Grayson, pp. 118 to 120. 
tGrayson, p. 1 19. 

80 ^(/<?j Letters and Speeches 

You remark that in Beaufort you are all trying to become 
more religious and more state-rights. The connection between 
the two pursuits is not so obvious at first sight as it becomes on 
a closer inspection; for as it is the business of reHgion to wean us 
from the world, the object may be well promoted by making the 
world less fit to live in. And, although I do not myself sub- 
scribe to the plan, I am fain to confess many excellent men have 
thought that the making a hell upon earth is a good way of being 
sure of a place in heaven. But I am tired of harassing myself 
with pubhc affairs, and wish I could attend more closely to my 
own, and had more of the taste for gain — the sacra fames auri. 
But I am afraid the bump of acquisitiveness is omitted with me un- 
accountably, and that I might as well try for music or dancing as 
for State-rights and faith in Jefferson, which seems admirably cal- 
culated to serve one in this world, whatever it may do in the next. 

In those days when a man, either lawyer, doctor or merchant, 
had achieved some success in life, to buy a rice plantation was 
considered the proper thing to do. To restrain Mr. Petigru's 
lavish hand his friends thought that the best way was to have 
him go in debt, which he was sure to pay. Accordingly, for the 
gratification of his wife and his friends he bought a rice planta- 
tion on the Savannah River a few miles below Savannah. The 
cost of the plantation was probably about ?!35,000. He bought 
137 negroes for a little less than $300 each, equal to about 
$41,000. The original lists show that the children below 14 
years old amounted to 28% and the superannuated to 8%. He 
also joined his friend James Hamilton, Jr. (the Governor) in 
the purchase of a plantation on the Ogeechee River. 

Anxious as he was, notwithstanding his opinions, to devote 
himself to his profession and his domestic affairs, he was not able 
to resist the importunity of his personal and political friends. 
There had been a severe contest for the city government.* 

*For intendant: — J. R. Pringle, Unionist, received 838 votes, and H. L. Pinck- 
ney, Nullifier, 754, a majority of 84. Charleston Mercury, September 6, 1830. 
Henry Laurens Pinckney was a man of great talent, and his extraordinary 
flow of language gave him great control over the multitude. He was always a 
devoted satellite of Calhoun. He was the son of Charles Pinckney, one of 
the framers of the Constitution, who was educated by his uncle, the Chief 
Justice, and was first cousin of his highly honored relative, Charles Cotes- 
worth Pinckney. Frances Pinckney, sister of Henry Laurens Pinckney, was 
the first wife of Robert Y. Yayne. 

James Reid Pringle was always a Union man, and one of the leading lawyers of 
the city. He was afterwards collector of the port. He was one of the most 
courteous men of his day. 

James Louis Petigru 81 

Another was pending for the House. He says: "We are about 
to begin another canvass, which will be more exasperating than 
the election of the last intendant. I am in for it, according to 
my usual luck. They have impressed me for a senator — nothing 
less than impressment. I resisted stoutly and bawled lustily 
for help, but none would help me, so nothing was to be done but 
take my place in the team. * * * If I am elected, I shall see 
much of you in Columbia, for I suppose your election is certain, 
since Beaufort, it is said, is willing to go the whole length of Gov- 
ernor Miller's course — ballot-box, jury-box, cartouch-box. I 
wish Elliott were here, where his soundness would be more 
appreciated than it is among your insurging people. Strange, 
too, that Beaufort, the most exposed place in the State, should 
be most eager to rush into danger. But many ingenious gen- 
tlemen of my acquaintance are seriously of opinion that the 
same Yankees whom we now accuse as shameless robbers, would 
desist from hurting us as soon as the Union is dissolved; that we 
should only have to do like an indignant gentleman who turns 
his back upon a man he dislikes, and lives beside him for the 
rest of his life without speaking and without fighting."* 

After the excitement attending the election for intendant had 
died out the members of the legislature were yet to be chosen. 
The Nullifiers put forth Colonel Richard Cunningham as a can- 
didate for State senator. The Union party insisted that Mr, 
Petigru should take the field against him. To fit himself for the 
contest he resigned the office of Attorney-General. With what 
reluctance he yielded to the importunities of his friends is shown 
by the previous letter. The result of the election is given in the 
Mercury, October 11, 1830, as follows: 

State senator, Richard Cunningham received 1,268 votes and 
James L. Petigru received 1,243 votes. 

The other members of the legislature elected were about 
equally divided between the two parties. Among those of the 
Union party elected was H. S. Legare. It was with no small 
degree of satisfaction to Mr. Petigru that in a few days the leg- 
islature elected Mr. Legare to the position of Attorney-General 
which he had vacated, and also that his friend. Judge J. B. 
O'Neall, was promoted from circuit judge to judge of the Court 
of Appeals. In later life O'Neall became president of the Court 

*Grayson, p. 120. 

82 Life J Letters and Speeches 

of Law Appeals and of the Court of Errors of South Carolina. 
James Hamilton, Jr., was elected Governor. 

On December 14, 1830, an election was held to supply the 
place in the House of Representatives made vacant by the 
resignation of Mr. Legare, the result of which was that Mr. 
Petigru received 1,266 votes and E. R. Laurens received 1,041, 
a majority for Mr. Petigru of 225. {Charleston Mercury^ 
December 16, 1830.) 

In reference to this event Petigru thus writes to Mr. Poinsett: 


Charleston, December 15, 1830. 
My dear Sir: 

After a long spell of bad weather we have at last a little sun- 
shine. The result of the election was declared about one half 
after 11. I have a majority of 227 which is 80 more than Mentz- 
ing had over Godard. — I believe Laurens had the full support of 
his party. Some few persons from private regard did not vote. 
Magrath* was the most considerable and influential of those I 
have heard of, who took that course. Boycef voted for me. In 
fact they have treated Boyce very ill. More than a fortnight 
ago, the proposal was submitted to put him forward as the can- 
didate of both parties — and it was urged that this was due to his 
feelings because they had taken the liberty of making him a 
candidate before without waiting for his consent and he was not 
on our ticket, merely because we did not think ourselves auth- 
orized to put him on it. In these circumstances he was not only 
defeated but at the bottom of the hst. And this was the time 
for the State rights men to make amends to his feelings; but they 
declined the overture. 

I felt a great anxiety to get up an opposition, for the purpose 
of encouraging our friends at Columbia. A minority is always 
in danger of becoming less, and Mentzing's majority over Mr. 
Godard might lead people to suppose that you were deserted by 
your constituents. As to going up at once to take my seat, it 
seems to me unnecessary. The fatigue is not to be considered 
at all, but I am very anxious to go to Savannah River. I will 
not determine till to-morrow. I see no use in going if the house 
is to adjourn on the 18th, but if I was sure it would sit till Tues- 
day it would make a difference. The mail will come to-morrow 
and perhaps I may hear some news from some of you that will 

*Andrew Gordon Magrath, afterwards U. S. district judge and governor of 

South Carolina 1866. 

f Ker Boyce, one of the most successful merchants of Charleston. 

'James Louis Petigru 83 

enable me to decide. A great deal of money has been lost in the 
election. Bets were made to a large amount last night. Old 
Dawson at Mrs. McDonald's won 500 dollars betting on a 
majority of 200. I have heard of several large bets on our 
majority which have been gained. 

I left in Alfred's room the papers you were good enough to 
undertake to bring for me. They are deeds, etc. Have the good- 
ness to put him in mind of it. 

Yours truly, 

J. L. Petigru.* 

At a meeting at Seyle's Hall, Petigru referred to the result of 
the election in these words: 

" If the departed spirits of the great and good are permitted to 
watch over the living, the soul of Washington must look on these 
proceedings and bless them for his country's welfare. " {Courier, 
December 30, 1830). 


Charleston, August 25, 1831. 
Dear Elliott: 

On the subject of a paper in Beaufort, I have talked with some 
few of our friends and there seems to be some difference of opin- 
ion. I am afraid that discussion will do nothing for Beaufort 
and St. Helena. The majority are just sufficiently numerous to 
constitute a good Jacobin Club, and I presume they are about as 
accessible to reason as those most incorruptible patriots. If 
you establish a paper in Beaufort, it will embitter the parties 
against one another and keep them from forgetting the division, 
and, out of Beaufort, the paper is not likely to circulate. I am 
in great hope that the Gazette will now die a natural death. Be 
assured, neither Grayson nor FuUerf will stick to the business 
six months, unless we do something to make it a question of 
pride. I wish you would go to Philadelphia. It will be an 
interesting meeting probably, and our party will be well repre- 
sented. If Judge Huger don't go, however, it will be more 
necessary for you to do so, in order that our low country dele- 
gates may have some one to look to, who is not so much a stran- 
ger as Middleton, nor so entirely a man of books as Legare. 
The suit on Holmes' bond begins to excite expectation. To- 
day the report is that Tazewell is to argue the case for Holmes 
and that $2,000 are sent on to insure his attention. I have it 
from the very highest authority, and no doubt he has been writ- 

*Original in the New York Historical Society. 

tRichard Fuller, afterwards a distinguished Baptist minister. 

84 J-^iJ^i Letters and Speeches 

ten to and has the promise of the party of $2,000 if he will come. 
Your essays in the papers have always excited a great deal of 
attention and are decidedly more talked of than any anonymous 
writings of the times. Is it not, as I have surmised, that the 
majority of St. Helena and Beaufort are helpless? The planters 
are all Jacobinical, more or less. They are fond of two things 
together, which are power and liberty. In every strife we find 
them against the established order of things and it always must 
be so. The planter is necessarily proud and his want of edu- 
cation condemns all but the small class, that stand at the head, 
to witness with great heartburning the consideration paid to 
polite education and talents. I have much hope that the other 
parts of Beaufort district are more sound. I would like to 
hear from you, and if you care for the party chit chat, will take 
pleasure in giving you a taste of it occasionally. 

Yours truly, 

J. L. Petigru, 

P. S. — The Union party, after going on with marvelous dis- 
cretion, have just come to something like a stump. They 
thought to send tracts into the country; B. F. H.* had the lead 
and undertook to superintend. He wrote the prospectus devil- 
ish well, too, but unluckily he steps over the line and, as our 
orthodox say, defends the tariff. Cardoza has denounced the 
paper and I don't know whether H. will explain or be sulky. He 
is not known; the paper is quite anonymous and of course you 
are not to guess at his name. 

The Honorable William Elliott was the grandson of William 
Elliott and Mary Barnwell. He married the daughter of 
Thomas Rhett Smith, a cousin of Barnwell Rhett Smith. Wil- 
liam E. Gonzales, of the Columbia State, is his grandson. 
He was a graduate of Yale College. By occupation he was a 
planter. He wrote many brilliant articles on political and agri- 
cultural topics,t and was the author of "Carolina Sports," a 
model book of its kind. He was a senator from Beaufort County 
and a strong Union man during nullification. In 1862, when 
Beaufort was occupied by Federal troops under General Hunter, 
during his absence his beautiful house in Beaufort was confis- 
cated under the legal form of being "sold for taxes. " 

*B. F. Hunt. 

tNotably, his report to the South Carolina Agricultural Society as to the honors 

awarded to Sea Island cotton at; the Paris Exposition. 

James Louis Petigru 85 


Charleston, September 7, 1831. 
My dear Elliott: 

We are egregiously beaten. They outdid us in manoeuver- 
ing and succeed, I believe, beyond their own expectations. The 
information you had was good. They did buy those that were 
sold before and practiced new and unheard of means. They 
kept men drunk, locked up, broke houses and carried them off 
and, in fact, did everything that was audacious. There is an 
immense advantage on their side, that their men who follow the 
craft of electioneering, have nothing else to do. And they 
possess a greater degree of impudence than our folks, and have 
more credit for character, with fewer scruples of conscience. 
We shall not give up, but take another fall with them in October. 
The day, however, has really come when passion is openly pre- 
ferred to reason, and as long as they can play the part of patriots 
and resist the constituted authorities at the cheap rate of blus- 
tering and bawling I believe they will continue to draw more 
fools into their circle. As the real character of their measures, 
however, develops itself, they will be deserted. This old quar- 
rel between liberty and licentiousness is very disagreeable. One 
of their bullies, "Jack Ashe," was killed last night by one of 
their own fellows, in a drunken brawl. He was good for at 
least fifty votes to them. I am expecting every moment to be 
called to assist in the ceremony of swearing in the new intendant, 
and must conclude and wishing you better news from everybody 
than from me. 

Yours truly, 


Charleston, November 14, 1831. 
Dear Elliott: 

I have been on the go for the last two or three weeks. Seen 
Columbia, Georgetown, etc., and listened to a good many things, 
but nothing to compare with the graphic touches of your pen in 
relation to the Beaufort revival. You really are the only man, 
that has caught the secret of Swift and can make one scream 
with laughing, while your own gravity is maintained all the 
while to admiration. I suppose, by this time, the fire has con- 
sumed everything in Beaufort that will burn. I see our senator 
has taken leave of his constituents and, I suppose, he steps into 
Mr. Joyner's shoes as commissioner in equity. If it is he who 
still indites the editorial articles, I am afraid that Mr. Baker* 
must administer more hell fire, for the traits of the old insanity 

*A Presbyterian minister who was the head of the great "Revival of Religion" 
in Beaufort district. 

86 -^-i/^j Letters and Speeches 

are still but too plainly visible in his last remarks. No doubt, 
as one nail drives out another, nullification will give way to 
religion in some cases, but our little fellow Pinckney has been 
vastly devout for six months, without any visible change in the 
filthiness of the outer man. It is the inside only of the cup, 
which is cleaned; his malignity, baseness and unhappy proclivity 
to falsehood are as great as ever. I perceive that Dr. Capers is 
to be Grayson's successor, from which I suppose, there is no 
hope of any effectual opposition. If you could only join us at 
the Senate in Columbia and Smith should be elected, as I hope 
he will be in York, it would be a great change for the better. I 
was at the meeting at Black Oak, last Friday; St John's is very 
much divided; it can not, with safety, be counted for us. The 
senator, White, has gone over to the enemy. The Representa- 
tives, Gaillard and Dwight, are firm. In Georgetown the parties 
are nearly equal; a little will turn the scale either way. In the 
districts on the Pedee, above Georgetown, the Union predomi- 
nates, and Ervin, former senator from Marlborough, is moving 
with the greatest activity and zeal on our side. It is perfectly 
uncertain whether they will attempt to nullify at this time. 
There is an ambiguous denial of it in the Mercury, and Harper's 
and Preston's speeches at Columbia, are the same way. Huger 
gives a very interesting account of the Philadelphia convention. 
It is certain Virginia will not patronize nullification and the signs 
from Georgia are very favorable. Our State now rocks and it 
depends on our neighbors whether the revolution shall proceed. 
If they are firm, the freetraders will be obliged to strike, and I 
don't think the day is far off, when they will cease to wear " those 
sweet smiles of assured success" which, the Times says, our 
patriotic governor* exhibited at Columbia. Jackson's pros- 
pects are brighter than ever at the North. The nomination of 
Mr. Wirt by the Antimasons, has confounded Mr. Clay's friends. 
It is thought he will hardly be regarded a candidate except in 
Kentucky and Ohio. 

Have you seen Middleton's letter to his constituents? He 
speaks of the Freetraders in not very measured terms. Cooperf 
at Columbia is in great trouble. We must move his expulsion, 
and nothing but a party vote can save him. If it be true that 
his party intends to desert him, he must go. Adieu. 

Yours truly, 

*James Hamilton, Jr. 

tDr. Thomas Cooper, president, South Carolina College, 1820-1834. He was 
finally turned out. The college had been almost destroyed through his presi- 

James Louis Petigru 87 


The Union Party and Nullification 

Ordinary politics were very little to Mr. Petigru's taste. He 
infinitely preferred the pleasure of social intercourse with his 
friends and the discharge of his professional duties. Neverthe- 
less when he once espoused a cause he gave himself to it heart 
and soul. To the Union party he devoted the services of his pen 
by contributing able articles to the columns of the City Gazette 
and of the Courier; made many popular speeches; gave them the 
full benefit of his great learning and ability, was the "soul of 
their councils "and became the acknowledged head of the Union 
party in South Carolina, though after his accustomed fashion 
after doing all the work he put others forward for the praise and 

How much he detested the dissensions and divisions among 
friends which the nullification controversy created, is shown by 
the following letter to his sister, Mrs. North. 

TO jane petigru north 

Charleston, June 13, 1832. 
My dear Jane: 

We had a grand meeting of the Union party last night, Mr. 
Henry Middleton* in the chair, and passed resolutions declaring 
our adhesion to the Union and our reliance on a southern con- 
vention. They did not pass without debate — Mr. Grimkef 
opposed them in a speech that was argumentative and eloquent; 
but, the great majority voted with us — and I believe Grimke is 
satisfied that he has done his duty, and if any harm comes of it, 
he is not to blame. Mr. Blake White also offered to support Mr. 
Grimke, but, he began after 10 o'clock and the folks cried out 
for the question, which I was sorry for — and he could not go on. 
We think it will make an impression on the country, and that if 
Mr. McLane's bill passes, which is expected, they will rather 
acquiesce in the bill than try either nullification or southern con- 

*Member of Congress and governor of South Carolina. For many years minister 

to Russia and often called "Russia Middleton." 

f Thomas S. Grimk^, a lawyer of great learning and high character. 

88 LifCy Letters and Speeches 

vention. But as yet, there seems to be no disposition on the 
part of the indignant patriots to accept of any compromise. 

I suppose you know that I am going to Edgefield. I expected 
to set out tomorrow in my own carriage, but one of the horses is 
lame, so I shall go in the stage to Edgefield and depend upon 
hiring or borrowing; James Smith* (a brother of Barnwell) is to 
deliver the oration for the Union party, but we shall not have a 
grand dinner and all that, unless the NuUifiers turn out and 
parade, and then we will. Poor Judge Prioleauf is despaired 
of; he has had a second stroke of palsy — he was taken on Mon- 
day afternoon and is speechless but sensible. It is really very 
distressing — one of the best men in the relations of domestic life 
that I ever knew — one whom I so much esteemed and have been 
so intimate with and now he is going to die, and these cursed 
politics have made me almost a stranger to him. 

Your Brother. 

On the 27th of April, 1832, the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. 
McLean, presented a tariff bill (mentioned in the previous letter) 
in answer to a call from the house. It was planned to raise 
twelve millions of revenue. It was proposed to collect fifteen 
per cent on imports in general, with special and higher rates on 
the great protected commodities. This was the administration 

The battle raged over the whole field of politics and political 

The act as finally passed on the 14th of July, 1832, reduced 
or abolished many of the taxes. It did not materially alter the 
protective taxes. The tax on iron was reduced; that on cotton 
was unchanged; that on woolens was raised fifty per cent. This 
was the position of the tariff and nullification when the presi- 
dential election was held. 

On the passage of this act the people of South Carolina 
thought that the limit of proper delay and constitutional agita- 
tion had been reached. The volcano was nearing eruption. 

*Now Rhett. 

fThis refers to Judge Samuel Prioleau. His first wife was Hannah Hamilton; 
his second wife was Elizabeth Lynch Hamilton, sisters of James Hamilton, Jr. 
His second wife was the mother of Charles Kuhn Prioleau, of Fraser, Trenholm 
& Company, Liverpool, the financial agents of the Confederacy in England 
during the Civil War. 

James Louis Petigru 89 


SuUivans Island, August 7, 1832. 
My dear Elliott: 

I received your letters, and if I did not answer the first, it was 
because, what with moving and other troubles, I was put off 
the course of my better thoughts. I wrote to Colonel Drayton, 
begging him to get, if possible, the southern members to unite 
either upon recommending the bill or some course of opposition, 
and since he came he told me he had endeavored to do so, but 
could not. The reason is pretty clear since the Georgia members 
have disclosed themselves. Have you seen Clayton's speech 
and toast at Laurens and have you seen the Augusta Constitu- 
tionalist? The editor has done a very bold act: he has struck 
out of his paper the Troup nomination of members of Congress, 
made by the party last December, and says, before that ticket 
is printed again in his paper, he must be better informed of the 
intentions of those gentlemen in the crisis of our affairs. This 
is a leading Troup paper and it portends a breaking up of the 
party. The Federal Union, the leading Clerke paper, repub- 
lishes Oglethorpe with praise and classes drunkenness, cholera 
and nullification together, as the three curses of the nation. On 
the other hand, the Chronicle, of Augusta, a Clerke paper, is in 
the most intimate union with our association, and the Nullifi- 
cation party in the State is nearly equally divided between the 
Troup and Clerke parties, and it seems to me impossible that 
these parties can longer be kept together on their distinctive 
grounds. The NuUifiers must unite and their opponents will 
unite of necessity. Wayne and Forsyth are the only Georgians 
who, in Congress, have stood by the Union and this schism is, 
I believe, extending in North Carolina and Alabama. Things 
will come to a crisis and perhaps it is better that the question 
should be made in the other southern States now. It will per- 
haps have a good effect in more ways than one. The zeal of our 
State doctors will not be so great, if they anticipate rivals in 
other States. They want auxiliaries, but they will be chagrined 
if they find that Troup and Clayton are disposed to lead. It 
would be just like Calhoun if he were to come forward to save 
the Constitution at its last gasp. I should not be surprised if 
he were to astonish the natives with another somersault. We 
will do our utmost in the city and have hopes of carrying the 
city election. If we do, there is no telling what the State election 
may turn out. And if Judge Richardson is not mistaken, who 
is confident of eight districts beyond the Pedee, we are pretty 
sure of defeating the convention again. You are pledged and 
must keep your word. I see no use, but on the contrary, great 
inconvenience in your resigning. If your friends were willing 
to release you, that would be another thing, but, I suppose, as 
they are admitted again to the fold, they would do nothing of 

90 -^(Z^) Letters and Speeches 

that kind. Encourage the ''tristes reliquiae belli,'' the faithful 
Unionists of Beaufort; we are strong enough to save the country 
if we have patience. Will you not call a meeting to send dele- 
gates to Columbia.'' We must do it. The Sumter people insist 
on the meeting and Judge O'Neale thinks it expedient for his 
part of the country. Nominate a full ticket. Let us make a 
goodly show and put forth a strong address, the object of which 
will be either acquiescence or convention. We may call for 
convention as loud as we please; it is not likely the other States 
will join in convention, as long as they keep down nullification 
without it. And the address will have a good effect on the 
election. Let me request you to prepare one. It ought to be 
well done and none of us could do it as well as you. I have had 
bad luck with mine and don't intend to try this time. How did 
you like the last? I mean that for the Union meeting, where 
Mr. Middleton presided. I wrote Grayson a letter the other 
day, quizzing him horribly. I wish he would show it to you. 
It is a melancholy sign, when honest men like Grayson are so 
willing to be deceived, that they will repeat not only what is 
untrue, but what can be proved to be false in five minutes, and 
will continue to abuse their conscience by devotedly believing 
it, after it is proved to be false. This reminds me of the club. 
I agree that the times would justify it in us to meet club with 
club, but, can we get a gang to oppose robbers, as easily as rob- 
bers unite in gangs .^ I think not. 

Yours faithfully, 


Charleston, August 24, 1832. 
My dear Elliott: 

I write but a line to tell you I have read your address with 
great pleasure and spoken to little Estill, who will go about the 
printing on Monday. The price of 200 or 500 is much the same, 
20 dollars. If you will send me the rest of the copy, I will attend 
to it and forward them to you as soon as done. We are going 
about the election in good earnest. It seems to me almost im- 
possible we should lose it. I really begin to think a reaction is 
taking place. Yours truly, 


Sullivans Island, September 4, 1832. 
My dear EUiott: 

We have lost the city election.* — Not only so, but a majority 

*For intendant — 

H. L. Pinckney received 1,112 votes. 

H. A. Desessaure received 950 votes. 

Majority for Pinckney 162 votes. 

Charleston Mercury y Monday, September 3, 1832. 

James Louis Petigru 91 

of 162 against us. The election was conducted very scandal- 
ously in many respects. The guard and paupers voted in defi- 
ance of law and shame. They actually admitted it was an 
evasion of law, and said they did it on their responsibility. In 
other instances, particularly at the poll where A. H. Brown 
managed, there was great partiality in admitting, as well as in 
rejecting votes. I fear the consequences on the State elections, 
and our only consolation is, that we did our utmost. The truth 
is, the public mind is poisoned. I never felt so shocked as by 
the shameless disregard of all sense of justice exhibited yester- 
day. An awful warning of the temper of revolutionary tribunals. 
Estill has finished your book. As soon as Bythewood* sails or 
any other opportunity occurs, 300 copies will be sent you; 500 
are printed. I thought I would retain the others for distribution. 
I don't know the exact amount of Estill's bill, but will let you 
know. I shall go to Columbia; I wish you would go too. 

Yours truly, 

P. S. — I am more and more pleased with your production in 
print. I am much mistaken if it does not make a strong impres- 

Proceedingsf of the Union and States' Rights convention at 
Columbia, South Carolina. Convention met pursuant to 
adjournment. The minutes of the proceedings of the first 
two days were read. 

Mr. Petigru, from the committee, reported the following 
address and resolutions which were submitted to the convention: 

To the People. 

At this period, when the controversy by which the State has 
for years been distracted is drawing to an issue of fearful import, 
the delegates of the Union party assembled at Columbia, invite 
your solemn attention to the consideration of the best mode of 
providing for the public safety. They solicit your co-operation 
in a common effort to sustain the prosperity, and if possible the 
peace of the country. There is no tariff party in South Carolina ; 
we agree on every side that the tariff should be resisted by all 
constitutional means. So far there is no difference of opinion; 
but we are divided as to the character of the means that should 
be employed; and resistance by nullification is the fatal source 
of bitterness and discord. Even those who are in favor of nulli- 
fication differ widely as to its character. It is recommended as 
constitutional and peaceful, but when explained even by its 

*Captain of Schooner Clutch & Benefit. 
fCharleston Courier, September 15, 1832. 

92 I^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

advocates it assumes many different aspects, and furnishes an 
evil omen of interminable strife. 

Regarded as a peaceful remedy, nullification resolves itself 
into a mere lawsuit, and may be shortly dismissed as a feeble, 
inefficient measure. For it has been wisely provided that the 
Constitution and acts of Congress made in pursuance thereof 
shall be the supreme law of the land — and in a court sitting under 
the authority of the Constitution, the merits of the question 
could receive no aid from the high-sounding terms of an act of 
nullification. Regarded as a forcible interposition of the sover- 
eign power of the State, the objections to it are far deeper. It 
is not a mere infraction of the Constitution which, like an exter- 
nal injury leaves its great utility unimpaired, but a radical and 
fatal error. 

The theory renders the Constitution a dead letter — and 
the practical enforcement of the doctrine is the beginning of 
Revolution. A Government inadequate to its purposes can 
not in the nature of things maintain its existence. The great 
end and aim of the Constitution is to preserve the union of the 
States, and by that means the harmony and prosperity of the 
country. The old Confederation proved inadequate to that 
end, because the execution of its resolutions depended on the 
will and pleasure of the several States. The convention which 
formed the Constitution owed its existence to the necessity of 
giving to the general Government the power to execute its own 
laws. If the several States can nullify an act of Congress like 
the "tariff, that power can not be exercised, and the federal 
government must follow the fate of the Confederation. It is in 
vain to argue against facts. The theory of nullification fal- 
sifies the history of the country. It is monstrous to contend 
that the framers of the Constitution did not invest the general 
Government with power to execute their own laws, or that with- 
out such power a union can exist. 

The restriction of the State veto in its terms to laws declared 
by the State to be unconstitutional is merely nominal. In 
practice it can make no difference, for whether the laws be uncon- 
stitutional or not, the effect of the nullification must be the same. 
If one State has the jurisdiction to declare a law unconstitu- 
tional, every other State must have the same; and the Consti- 
tution can have no settled meaning. It is vain to say the powers 
would be lightly exercised. If it were a power which the States 
possess, if the right was acknowledged, there would be no more 
difficulty or reserve in the exercise of it now than under the Con- 
federation. A veneration for the Constitution may prevent 
infractions, but can have no application to the exercise of the 
right when it is once admitted to be constitutional. According 
to the theory of nullification any number of States, more than 
one fourth of the whole, may change the Constitution. For in 

James Louis Petigru 93 

case a State shall nullify an act which that very State in common 
with all the others had formerly recognized as legitimate, or any 
law that is really constitutional, unless three-fourths concur in 
favor of the law so nullified, the Constitution will, to all intents 
and purposes be changed; and this power of a minority to alter 
the Constitution is deduced from the express provision that it 
shall not be altered by a majority of less than three-fourths. By 
the same rule, if unanimity had been required in all amendments, 
the Constitution might have been changed by any one State. 
Such fallacy requires no exposure. A construction which 
destroys the text and gives to words an effect directly opposite 
to their sense and meaning is too gross for argument. 

Such are the objections to nullification in theory. Tt is not 
merely an infraction of the Constitution, but a total abrogation 
of its authority. But in practice a dissolution of the Union is 
one of the least of the dire calamities which it must inflict on 
the country. A secession from the Union might possibly take 
place in peace, and would only impair our national defense, put 
our independence in danger, and give us up as a party to foreign 
influence, with its usual consequences of domestic factions and 
frequent wars. But nullification in practice must produce a 
direct collision between the authorities of the States and those 
of the Union. It would place both parties under the necessity 
of a conflict, and ensnare the citizen between inconsistent duties, 
adding to the disasters of war the cruelties of penal laws. It 
may be said by the advocates of nullification that the State is 
entitled to the unqualified allegiance of its citizens, and that 
the decrees of a State convention would supersede all other obli- 
gations. Without stopping to examine the correctness of this 
doctrine, it may be conceded for the purposes of argument, that 
if the State authorities command us to withdraw our allegiance 
from the general Government we are bound to obey. But 
nullification proposes to be a constitutional remedy — and whilst 
it calls upon us to resist the constituted authorities, it commands 
implicit obedience to the Constitution of the United States; 
can anything less than humiliation and defeat be expected from 
such a tissue of inconsistencies? 

But if nullification be considered not as a constitutional power, 
but as a high prerogative, and an exceptance justified by great 
emergencies, it must in principle be the same as the right of 
resistance, which is recognized by the principle of freedom as a 
right paramount to all constitutions, and is but an application 
to the State as a political body of the same principle which pre- 
vails in every case between the people and the government. 
But as this exception is by its very nature beyond all law, it can 
not be incorporated into the rule of the Constitution. The 
question in all such cases is, whether necessity exists; whether the 

94 ^(/^j Letters and Speeches 

magnitude of the evil is such as to justify a resort to revolution- 
ary force. 

We cherish a sacred attachment to the Constitution, and 
deplore and deprecate the effects of that rage and passion, which 
in the correction of abuses would sweep away the inestimable 
institution of freedom. If nullification was not fatal to these 
institutions there would be no dispute among us, and when the 
vital and essential interests of the State are in jeopardy, we 
should think no risk too great for their preservation in the last 
resort. But it would little comport with patriotism or prudence 
to incur all the calamities attendant upon the destruction of 
social order, if any plan can be suggested for the removal of the 
burthens of the tariff (already considerably diminished) by 
safer and more eligible means. We believe that the times call 
loudly for the adoption of such a plan, and that no insuperable 
objections stand in the way of a cordial co-operation of all 
parties. Let the southern States meet in convention and delib- 
erate as well on the infraction of their rights as on the mode and 
measure of redress. The States of Virginia, North Carolina, 
Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi are equally con- 
cerned with us in all the consequences of the tariff. If the free- 
dom and prosperity of one are involved in the issue, those of all 
the others are equally concerned. 

Whatever advantages may be expected from nullification as 
a constitutional check, can only be realized by a concurrence of 
the States that are interested, and such a co-operation appears 
to be clearly intimated by the Virginia Resolution as the proper 
proceeding in such cases. And if nullification be regarded as 
an appeal to the principle of resistance, it would be madness to 
expect success without the support and countenance of those 
States. If the States which are injuriously affected by the pro- 
tective system, concur in regarding the ordinary constitutional 
checks as insufficient to restrain the general government within 
its proper sphere, such interposition as they may advise, will be 
most effectual and productive of the smallest injury. 

Even those who support the opinion that nullification is a 
constitutional and peaceful remedy, admit that it is only to be 
resorted to in extreme cases, and on the ground of great public 
necessity. And how shall we be satisfied of this necessity but 
by the support and concurrence of those States who are equally 
nterested? Many causes may conspire to create an excitement 
in one State out of all proportion to the magnitude of the evil. 
But if the excitement is general and prevails as widely as the 
mischief extends we may be sure that it does not proceed from 
prejudice or accidental causes, and that the crisis has arrived 
for the intervention of an extraordinary remedy. It is due to 
the veneration in which the Constitution ought to be held, to 
the responsibility which we are under for preserving it inviolate. 

James Louis Petigru 95 

that no measure, involving in its consequences so essentially 
the stability of the Government as nullification confessedly 
does, should be undertaken except by the concurrence of such a 
number of States as are invested with the restraining or negative 
power in the case of amendments. 

Such are the advantages of a southern convention. The 
objections to it may be easily disposed of. It is not unconsti- 
tutional. The States are prohibited from entering into treaties 
or confederacies among themselves. But a southern convention 
will form no treaty or compact of any kind. Their object will 
be to deliberate, to enlighten, and give effect to public opinion. 
Nor will their deliberations be injurious to the Union. If the 
States who are aggrieved by the tariff laws act in concert their 
claim will in all probability be conceded; but if the very worst 
that can be imagined should happen, and their demands be 
capriciously rejected it will be for the several States and not for 
the convention to act on the subject. The advice of the con- 
vention will no doubt have great weight, but it will be salutary 
influence, not a legal control. 

In the spirit of amity we make this appeal to our fellow-citi- 
zens. The glorious inheritance is at stake. The same blow 
which destroys the union, levels to the ground the defences of 
liberty. Under the Federal Constitution we have enjoyed all 
which the patriots of the American Revolution desired to see. 
Our country has increased in riches, in knowledge, and in honor. 
And those who offered up their lives in the cause of America 
would have closed their eyes in peace if they could have been 
blessed with a vision of that future which we have enjoyed. 
The happiness of our citizens has formed the admiration of the 
wise and good; and now when the scene is changed, and discon- 
tents created by the acts of Government, have brought the Con- 
stitution itself into danger, it depends on the moderation and 
wisdom of the sons of liberty, to repay in some degree the debt 
of gratitude, by transmitting the same inheritance to their pos- 

1. Therefore Resolved, That while we deprecate nullification 
as founded on principles subversive of the Constitution, we 
would willingly and cordially unite with our fellow-citizens of the 
Free Trade and States Rights party of this State, on any ground 
which promises a redress of our grievances, without involving a 
violation of the Constitution of the United States. 

2. Resolved, That in case of concurrence of the States of Vir- 
ginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Missis- 
sippi, this Convention do earnestly recommend to the citizens 
of this State to meet in their several districts and elect delegates 
to attend a general meeting of the citizens of the said State in 
convention, to take under consideration the grievances under 
which we labor, and the means and measures of redress. 

96 ^(/<?j Letters and Speeches 

3. Resolved^ That we solemnly pledge ourselves to adopt, abide 
by, and pursue such measures in relation to our grievances, as the 
said convention shall recommend. 

4. Resolved, That a committee of nine be appointed to corres- 
pond with their fellow-citizens of the said States, and in case of 
their concurrence in the proposed convention to give notice 
of the time and place of holding the same, and fix a day for 
election of delegates from the several districts of this State, and 
that a majority of the acting members of the committee be 
authorized to supply any vacancies in their numbers as the same 
may occur. 

The above report and resolutions adopted by the convention 
by a vote of 112 to 1. 


Charleston, September 20, 1832. 
My dear Elliott: 

I suppose you have seen our proceedings in Columbia. We 
regretted much that you were not there. We went on smoothly. 
Brisbane from St. Georges made a speech against the Resolutions, 
which, the Nullifiers in the gallery applauded, till they were told 
that he was mad and then, they were vastly chagrined by this 
evidence of the likeness between him and their great men. I 
would hardly write to you now, if I did not wish to tell you how 
rapidly your address to your constituents was caught at. I 
carried up nearly all the impressions besides what you have and 
they were called for again and again after they were all gone. 
T left a few here and Estill tells me there was such a demand for 
them, that he kept them no time, and speaks of publishing a 
second edition. More than all, I believe it has had great effect 
in making him a good Union man. As to our prospects, they 
are not as flattering as I could wish. The idea that we are the 
weaker party has great influence in making us still weaker. If 
we had missionaries to traverse the country as they do, I believe 
firmly we could dispute the ground with them successfully. But 
we have none. Even now, I am invited to Barnwell and, after 
balancing the pros and cons till I am tired, I am not able to go. 
If I was independent of the shop, I would take the field in earnest. 
Cheves'* second number is coming out; he ought to put his name 
to it. "Occasional Reviews" is a ridiculous title for a contro- 
versial political pamphlet. As far as the manner of publishing 
can weaken the effect of his opinions, he has made sure of de- 

*Hon. Langdon Cheves, Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, law 
judge of South Carolina, president of the United States Bank and finally a most 
successful rice planter on the Savannah River. 


/a"* ^ 

V' O A O N ^> ^, — N \ .t '' 

-( r 



^' ///v/^^/v/^ . 

y/ / ^ / / J/ 'fe V-' V 

s / 


Ballot, Election 1832 

{Facing 96) 

James Louis Petigru 97 

priving them of any dangerous authority. One important fact 
I must tell you and this is, that these delegates at Columbia were 
nearly all in favor of resistance to Nullification, whether by the 
'' Legis Latinae'' or convention. They are to assemble again 
in December and with a view to that very question, which, I 
have no doubt, will be decided in favor of resistance and, if they 
nullify, the sword will be drawn in good earnest. I speak, of 
course, on the supposition that the act is accompanied by penal 
laws or any encroachments on the liberty of the citizen. Adieu. 



Charleston, September 28, 1832. 
My dear Elliott: 

Your resignation was, I've no doubt, considering all circum- 
stances, the best thing you could do. When sedition rages in a 
great city, there is some consolation amidst the risk of resisting 
and quelling it, in the dignity of the position. Rut, in a petty 
borough, among a feeble, hot-headed set, what is one to do but 
leave them to their folly .^ I suppose your remonstrance has 
kindled their zeal anew. In every other part of the State your 
address has been received with admiration. A second edition 
has been printed, in consequence of the first impression being 
entirely taken off. It is quite in character, however, with the 
petty malice of a community like Beaufort, that lies at the mercy 
of every enemy, to resent an appeal to their reason, which, com- 
ing as it does, from one of their fellow citizens does them more 
honor than all their town can boast of. The circumstances, at 
which you have hinted, that led immediately to your resigna- 
tion, are not known here, and it is taken for granted that you 
resigned rather than vote for convention. Probably it is as 
well to let the impression remain so. The editors, I believe, 
have said nothing about it, though from my stay on the island 
I am not in the habit of seeing the papers regularly. It will be 
"touch and go," as they say, about a convention. If we break 
their ticket in town the convention is lost; if we do not, it is 
perfectly uncertain. The doubtful districts are York, Chester, 
Newbury, Union, Laurens, Claremont, Georgetown, Barnwell, 
Abbeville. Of course you have seen Calhoun's last piece. I 
think it requires answering and that he is entitled to some credit 
for the skill with which he has put together his materials. But 
it is a paltry affair. Disconnected from the excitement of the 
day, the reasoning would be little attended to. He has aban- 
doned the old ground of each party judging for himself, and now 
stands altogether upon the allegiance — the exclusive and abso- 
lute allegiance of the citizen to the State. There is no such 
allegiance and his declaration that there is no such thing as the 

98 -^c/<?j Letters and Speeches 

American people is unworthy of a citizen. But, even if it was 
so, the difficulty remains: what is to become of the other States? 
South Carolina is not entitled to their allegiance and they have 
not merely a natural but a positive right to have the Constitu- 
tion enforced on the people of South Carolina. I hope Mr. 
Cheves will take up the argument and push him to the wall. 
We are working very hard here and have some hope — a good 
deal of hope; in fact, we don't think of giving up. It is very 
desirable that we should know what are the Union votes in every 
district. I have been told repeatedly you ought to stand again, 
which I have discountenanced. If you have any gentleman, 
however, that will put up his name, merely by way of showing 
there is a minority and what it is, I would be glad. 

Yours truly, 


Charleston, October 3, 1832. 
My dear Elliott: 

I am going off to-morrow to Inabinets in St. Georges to address 
some citizens at a barbecue, and can not put off acknowledging 
your letter of the 26th till I come back, considering too, that it 
should have been done before. I hardly know what to think 
of your Beaufort. For a quiet and rather a dull place, it has 
become another name for sedition. It has no populace and 
very few houses, but it certainly lacks little else to make it a 
match for the most seditious place in Christendom. I have no 
doubt, however, that your people acted by order and that the 
edict was to purge the parishes. The movement was made in 
St. Helena, St. Bartholomews, and St. Thomas. I suppose 
you have seen Huger's letter: he will not resign. There is no 
sort of doubt that the exaction of your promise to abide by the 
voice of the parish in regard to convention was unfair, as it was, 
in fact, another way of voting for nullification. But when they 
claimed your vote for nullification itself it was downright impu- 
dence. T suppose they go for the right of instruction in all cases. 
A. Huger's brother told me this morning he ought to resign, for 
a representative was bound to obey the will ot his constituents. 
T have not spoken to old Deas on the subject, but I suppose they 
will determine that you can resign, although I see some notice 
in the newspapers of doubts and Wardlawof the Carolinian very 
impertinently requests you to change places with Grayson. I 
think, if I were in your place I would not attend the Senate and 
let them get out of the difficulty (if there is any) as well as they 
can. And now as to your resigning, I think you were perfectly 
right. You were so situated as to make it impossible for you 
to hold on without doing more harm than good. A place like 
Beaufort is very different from St. Thomas Parish. There Huger 

James Louis Petigru 99 

may hold on and it will make no feud nor produce any quarrels. 
But you grieve me when you say the Union party has melted 
away. That is one of the worst symptoms of the revolutionary 
times; it shows either madness or terror when everybody seems 
anxious to be in the majority and there is a rush for whatever 
is uppermost in parties. So we shall not meet at Columbia, 
even if I am elected and that is a great doubt. We are making 
great efforts but the Nullifiers have resorted again to bribery. 
I suspected they were going to do so from their absurd punc- 
tiliousness a week ago. We shall expose them and use no money 
and if our rogues — I mean those who are used to money — don't 
desert we shall yet do well. Ton will probably lose Christ 
Church. Rose will have a contest for St. Thomas and Shool- 
bred is a candidate with some prospects from St. James Santee. 
There is a great struggle for Goose Creek; we have an unfor- 
tunate candidate, Davis; he is under the imputation of return- 
ing no property in his own name. We are very anxious to run 
a ticket in every district with a view to ascertain the numerical 
strength, but I suppose there will be none in any part of Beau- 
fort district but St. Luke's. Do send over the Union votes if 
we have any, to give Allston a help. Does not Turner own 
some land in St. Luke's? Adieu. 

Yours faithfully, 
P. S. — I hope you have by this time received my answer to 
your first letter, /. e., the first after you had resigned. 
Unpledged Republican Ticket 
Tames R. Verdier ) ^^ 
John Fripp ^Representatives. 

Ticket printed; nothing else at present. 

Petigru made many speeches during this exciting period. All 
of them were masterpieces of wit and humor. Those who heard 
them spoke of them as models of popular eloquence. They 
abounded in pithy reasoning, pointed illustrations and apt allu- 
sions. He never committed the mistake, common to stump ora- 
tors, of attempting to lower himself to the level of his audience, 
but raised them to his own level of good, pure, unadulterated 
and forcible English. No stilted style or bombastic language 
weakened the force of what he had to say. In one of these 
speeches, at a meeting in a neighboring parish, he impressed 
upon his hearers the dangers they would incur if the Union were 

"I see," he said, "some broad-shouldered and deep-chested 
men among you; but who of this assembly would undertake, 
with all his muscular power, to strip off with a single pull with 

100 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

both hands all of the hair from the tail of one of your horses 
that stand hitched behind you among the trees? It would be 
impossible for the strongest. But the weakest among you, if 
he takes the hairs one by one, might pull them all off very easily 
and leave the stump as bare as his hand. It is thus that dis- 
union would expose you to be stripped by enemies that you now 

Coming home from the meeting, Richard Yeadon said to him: 
"Where did you get your horse's tail.^ Was it an invention pro- 
duced by the sight of the countrymen's horses.^" "No, Dick," 
replied Mr. Petigru, "I got the horse tail from Plutarch. The 
tail is classical, my friend."* 

The reminiscence of J. H. Dukes, who as a boy heard him use 
these words at a meeting: 

"But long ere the day comes which sees these United States 
a divided nation, I do trust in God that I may sleep in the cold 
and silent grave far from the dissonance of that wild note that 
shall proclaim the triumph of misrule and downfall of my coun- 
try's glory." 

The intense excitement and bitterness over the city election 
for intendant was surpassed by the ensuing election for the legis- 
lature. The peace was in peril always from the public meetings 
of the two parties. These meetings were held by the Union 
men at Seyle's long room between Meeting Street and King 
Street; by the Nullifiers at the "Circus." 

At these places they were addressed by their several leaders; 
the most inflammatory speeches were made night after night, 
the rank and file denounced, ridiculed and reviled each other. 
On one side the popular tribunes were Hamilton, Hayne, Turn- 
bull (Brutus), Deas, Pinckney and many more; on the other, 
Petigru, Poinsett, Drayton, Huger, and their assistants. On 
one side the epithets "submissionist, " "slave," "sneak," "cow- 
ard," "renegade," were freely applied. On the other the terms 
Jacobin, madman, fool, conspirator, were as liberally bestowed; 
and so they went on uttering phrases of contemptuous scorn 
with rival zeal and earnestness. 

One night there was an exciting passage between the two 
factions when they nearly came to blows, and it was always con- 

*Grayson, p. 124. 

James Louis Petigru 101 

sidered a very critical moment, for had blows been dealt, civil 
war had begun. They had met as usual. Some were armed; 
others were excited with liquor or with passion. The customary 
harangues were made and a large amount of fuel supplied to 
their patriotic fires. The leaders began to be apprehensive 
of the consequences of their own work. The Circus sent a note 
to the long room, advising as a prudential measure that the 
Union men should retire from their meeting by the way, not of 
King Street, but of Meeting Street. King Street was the outlet 
of the Circus assembly. The purpose of the missive was a 
friendly one to avoid a collision between the two bands. The 
object met the approbation of the Union chiefs. The note was 
read to the meeting with the hope that its suggestion should be 
followed. Nothing of the sort. "What!" it was said, "shall 
they dictate to us by what route we shall retire to our homes? 
Would they make us the slaves they already call us? Who will 
submit? Not one." The way by Meeting Street was wide and 
easy; that by King Street was narrow. They tore down fences 
to go out by the King Street outlet; they tied slips of white 
cotton to their arms for recognition and marched down King 
Street, breathing defiance to their enemies. They met, — the 
Union men going down; the NuUifiers going up the street. They 
stood in battle array, ardent for fight, and, like Homer's heroes, 
began the onset by abusing each other. 

But fortunately common sense and right feeling had not quite 
deserted the leaders. They made attempts to keep the peace 
and finally agreed among themselves to a sort of compromise. 
The hostile meeting occurred just at the point where Hasel 
comes into King Street. It was agreed that the Union party 
should turn into Hasel Street provided the NuUifiers did not 
follow them; but the compact was not kept. The insurgent 
party pursued their foes. Many blows were aimed at Petigru. 
Drayton and Poinsett were both struck by brickbats but were 
prudent enough to keep the fact from the knowledge of their 
followers. An ardent Nuilifier, finding himself opposed by a 
common laborer, waved him aside with the remark: "I will not 
spill your base plebeian blood; bring forth your Dray tons, your 
Pringles and your Hugers." At length the city guard was 
maneuvered into position between the belligerent parties and 
they retired to their homes or to the taverns to recount the 

102 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

exploits of the evening and prepare new broils for the future. 
Mr. Petigru and his friends retired to his house in Broad Street 
and had supper, and they were joined by General Hamilton, the 
leader of the opposition. Party feeling between these men did 
not destroy their personal regard of friendship. 

Thousands of dollars were contributed by patriotic gentlemen 
and not less patriotic ladies towards defraying expenses on 
either side. Voters were kidnapped and kept locked up and 
under guard until the day of election. Staid citizens and rollick- 
ing youths mingled with laboring men and sailors at balls in 
Elliott Street and other disreputable places. It was anything 
to catch a vote. Drunkenness and debauchery were in the air. 

The result of the election was that the Union party were 
defeated, and the NuUifiers, for the first time, got control of 
South Carolina. 

The nullification contest was undoubtedly the culminating 
period of Mr. Petigru's political life. The following unstudied 
letter to his friend, Mr. Hugh S. Legare, then in Brussels, is 
characterized by graphic descriptions, patriotic sentiments and 
prophetic utterances. From a relative of Mr. Legare these 
letters came into the hands of Prof. Yates Snowden, with whose 
permission they are used. They have previously appeared in a 
"Life of James L. Petigru," by Joseph Blythe Alston, published 
in the Neves and Courier in 1900. 


Charleston, October 29, 1832. 
My dear Legare: 

Since you left us things have turned out as fools wished and 
wise men expected. The city election with all our pains was 
lost. Pinckney beat DeSaussure* 160 votes. On the 8th and 
9th we were defeated again; the whole Nullification ticket suc- 
ceeded by an average majority of 130. The governor's procla- 
mation, like one of Napoleon's bulletins, was ready in anticipa- 
tion of the victory, and was read in all the districts the day after 
the election, convening the legislature on the 22d. You know 
it was always a doubt which was the legislature between October 
and November, but, as Clayton says, he that doubts is damned 
nowadays. The convention bill was dispatched as soon as it 
could be read, and the legislature adjourned on Friday, and the 
convention is to be elected and convene between this and the 

*Henry A. DeSaussure, a lawyer of Charleston. 

James Louis Petigru 103 

third Monday of November (19th). Thus you see that we are 
on the gallop and how long our demagogues will keep the saddle 
no one knows. The spread of Jacobinical opinions has been 

We have only twenty-six members in the House and fourteen 
in the Senate. The Union vote throughout the State is about 
16,000, and the Nullification 23,000. Our country friends were 
terribly taken in. In Richardson's district, Claremont, they 
were beaten 300 and in Barnwell by 500. In Abbeville by 700. 
Charleston, Georgetown, Williamsburg and York were the dis- 
tricts where they ran an equal race. In Georgetown — two 
Union men to one Nullifier — the vote being 188 to 186. In 
Williamsburg a tie between the first Union and the first Nulli- 
fier, and in York we were beaten by twenty-five votes. Ton is 
turned out in Christ Church and Deas in Camden. We had 
our Union convention in September and put forth our southern 
convention prospectus, but all would not do. Nothing could 
supplant nullification but something that would go ahead of it, 
and as far as South Carolina has a voice her fate is sealed. Now 
the question comes whether our Constitution is anything better 
than other ware of that kind that has been hawked about 
since 1789. What a pity that Lafayette to the other republican 
institutions to which he was making Louis Philippe a convert was 
not able to add State rights. The Union party here have deter- 
mined not to support any ticket for the convention. Our friends 
in the legislature who come from districts where they have the 
upper hand think differently. We mean to reserve ourselves 
for the ebb tide. How long we shall wait is a very serious ques- 
tion. If we had anybody at the head of affairs that could be 
depended on it would be a fair chance yet, but the old man* seems 
to be more than half a Nullifier himself, and we are compelled to 
rely for the best of our hopes on the doubtful allegiance of Geor- 
gia. Wayne received the greatest vote any man has received in 
Georgia for a long time, 9,000 more than Clayton, but Jones is 
elected, as well as Clayton, Foster and Gamble. The Troup 
men seem to have voted together, and to have supported their 
Nullifiers most strongly, for the only candidates on their ticket 
who were left out (Haynes and Branham) are Union men. But 
the Georgia convention assembles next Monday night and the 
proceedings will throw some light on the politics of that State. 
Cummings is a host himself. If the South ever gives a Presi- 
dent I hope it will be he. He is fit for the very highest place and 
the mighty improbability that he ever will receive it is a beauti- 
ful commentary on the superiority of our elective monarchy. 

The turbulence of the late election far outdid anything you 
ever saw here. We were beset at Seyle's night after night by a 

"General Jackson, who had not yet pronounced himself against the Nullifiers. 

104 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

disorderly mob and obliged to arm ourselves with bludgeons 
and march out in files. The mob crowded on us with every 
species of insult. Their leaders entreated us to retire, as^their 
men were perfectly disorderly and would listen to nothing. It 
was with great difficulty we could persuade our men to do so. 
Many blows were aimed at me; Drayton and Poinsett were both 
struck and we drew off our people amidst every species of insult 
and abuse. We could have cleared the street, and it would have 
been policy to do so, but doubtless the parties would have met 
the next time with muskets. 

After the city election a treaty took place between the parties 
to prevent bribery. The Nullifiers construed this compact as 
they do the Constitution — they gave men money to prevent 
them from selling their votes. And as soon as we complained 
and said the compact was broken, they took us at our word and 
dropped the disguise, but what is more, stuck up great placards 
headed, "Compact abandoned by the Union party." Frank 
Wood was never in such glory and it is scarcely possible to con- 
ceive of any abuse that was not openly practiced. As an 
example the paupers were discharged by Tom Gantt on the day 
of election, and they voted by the unanimous consent of his 
brother managers, backed by old Turnbull, who insisted roundly 
that as they were discharged from the Poor House they had a 
right, and that they ought always to be discharged in order that 
they might enjoy their privilege. There appears to me a great 
increase of that contempt for justice that seems to go hand in 
hand with every revolution. For our consolation, however, 
religion never was more flourishing. In Beaufort and Walter- 
boro its triumphs have been very signal. Robert Barnwell 
and Barnwell Smith* have given in their adhesion. It is like 
Mahomet's faith, however. They combine war and devotion, 
and, in fact, it seems to me that fanaticism of every kind is on 
the increase. I am in a complete state of uncertainty myself. 
Uncertain as to what the Nullifiers will do; what Congress will 
do; what the States will do. Sometimes I think it will all pass 
off in smoke and noise, but these are rather my hopes than my 
opinions. If a revolution is effected I am doubtful of my own 
course. Should it come to an affair of force in the State I must 
take my share, and if proscription and penal laws are enforced I 
must emigrate. But in fact if the Union is severed my mind is 
made up to quit the negro country. But where to go? aye, 
there's the rub. 

I ought to mention that Alfred Huger has absolutely quit the 
Nullifiers; refused to vote for a convention and refused to resign. 
You may judge, therefore, in what sort of odor he is. Cheves, 

*Both former pupils of Mr. Petigru, and Members of Congress and Senators 
from South Carolina. 

James Louis Petigru 105 

too, has made a wise movement of the same kind. He has writ- 
ten three books and a supplement against the NuUifiers; against 
the 40-bag; against the convention, and against the call of the 
legislature, but they both quit their party just at the time when 
they could spare them without any inconvenience, and they have 
done us about as much good as they have done harm to the 

Your mother is quite well. Your sister has not yet returned. 
We had frost last night for the first time. Your kindness to 
Charles is such as places me under great obligations. Whether 
he will get a furlough I don't know. He wishes to resign, but 
the idea of coming to Charleston in the present circumstances 
is so preposterous that I rejected it altogether. Your letter was 
a great boon to me. Almost the first thing that has happened 
for a long time to please and gratify me. Pray don't forget me. 
I'll try and keep you informed of what passes here even if it is 
but little, and it does seem to me that our revolution has less 
dignity than the rest. Adieu. 

Yours faithfully, 

The St. Simoniens are excellent, but Figaro is full of wit. 
The absence of all wit from our politics is another proof, I sup- 
pose, of our superiority. 

J. S. Clayton of Georgia, alluded to in this letter, was a can- 
didate for President in 1824. He was the judge, in Georgia, who 
sentenced the two missionaries, to the Cherokee Indians, to 
hard labor. This decision was reversed by the Supreme Court 
in 1828. In 1832 he was in the United States Senate, opposed 
to the tariff and nullification. He was said to be a great stump 
speaker. Mr. Petigru with great humor often reported a peror- 
ation of one of his speeches as follows: 

"Who doubts is damned; who denies is a dastard, and the 
very commonest hangman would consider his office degraded to 
nail his ears to a door post." 

Mr. Petigru evidently expected armed coercion by the national 
Government in case nullification was put into full effect, and 
the following letter to Mr. Elliott as to the collector of the port 
of Beaufort is significant: 


Beaufort Creek, S. B. Margin, November 18, 1832. 
My dear Elliott: 

Lest I should not see you, I write beforehand to tell you, that 
I am very desirous of seeing you and wish to converse with you 

106 ^{/^> Letters and Speeches 

on a matter of consequence. The Government is wide awake 
to the plot of our demagogues and there will be a scene before a 
great while, for I understand that it was decided before the call 
of the convention, that the State shall secede if coercion is 
attempted. That coercion, very vigorous and effective, as far 
as the old man is concerned, will be employed, there is no room 
to doubt. If it was not for the antipathy of the National Repub- 
licans to the administration, there would be no doubt at all. 
What with their want of all confidence in the General and their 
high federal principles, it is difficult to say which course they 
will pursue. As hard as it is to predict what Georgia, between 
the love of sedition and hate of Calhoun, will decide on. It is 
probable they will be obliged to make arrangements concerning 
the port of Beaufort. Who is your collector at present and, in 
case of the office being vacant, whom would you recommend, 
that is, whom would you secretly and privately prefer? The 
patronage of the Government can not, of course, pass through 
Barnwell's hands,* and these questions the administration must 
ask of you. Your postmaster is sound? If he were otherwise 
employed, who would be fit for his place? Do write me to 
Savannah, as soon as you receive this. I hope I may see you 
and if I am to leave the letter for you, I shall leave a great deal 
unsaid. Recollect, officers of vigilance and firmness as well as 
integrity are necessary. 

Yours truly. 

After the election nullification moved rapidly forward with 
the precision of well adjusted mechanism. Governor Hamil- 
ton, the next day, by proclamation convened the legislature for 
the 22d of October. They met and on the 26th passed an act 
ordering a convention to be held on the third Monday, the 19th 
of November, 1832. The convention accordingly assembled. 
Governor Hamilton presided as president. The convention was 
composed of 162 members, of whom 136 were Nullifiers. It 
immediately adopted an ordinance that the acts of Congress of 
May 19, 1828, and July 14, 1832, were null and void, and no law 
in South Carolina, and not binding upon the State, its officers 
or its citizens; that no duties enjoined by that law or its amend- 
ments should be paid or permitted to be paid in the State after 
the 1st day of February, 1833. The ordinance provided that 
no appeal from South Carolina courts to a federal court should 
be allowed, such an appeal to be considered contempt of court, 
and all officers and jurors were to take the oath of allegiance; 

*Robert Woodman Barnwell, then member of Congress from the district. 

James Louis Petigru 107 

South Carolina would secede if the United States proceeded to 
enforce anything contrary to the ordinance. 

The legislature met again at its usual time, the 4th Monday of 
November, and passed laws requisite to put the ordinance in 
operation. Goods seized by the custom house officers might be 
replevined; the militia and volunteers might be called out and 
10,000 stands of arms were to be purchased. 

Robert Y. Hayne resigned from the United States Senate, and 
on the 13th of December, 1832, was elected governor of South 
Carolina without opposition. He had just attained his 41st 
year, and had served ten years as Senator. The day following 
the election of the governor, Calhoun was elected to the vacancy 
in the Senate; for this purpose he resigned the office of Vice 
President on December 28th, having been Vice President for 
eight years. Hayne immediately issued a proclamation to the 
legislature as follows: 

After ten years of unavailing remonstrance in common with 
other southern States, South Carolina has in the face of sisters 
of the federation and the world, put herself upon her sovereignty. 

* * * She was compelled to assert her just rights or sink 
into a state of colonial vassalage. If South Carolina is not re- 
lieved by a satisfactory adjustment of the tariff or by general 
convention of all the States, she has declared before God and 
man that she will maintain the position that she has assumed. 

* * * She is anxiously desirous of peace. She has no wish 
to sever the political bond which connects her with the other 
States; but, with Thomas Jefferson, she does not regard the dis- 
solution of the Union as the greatest of evils; she regards one as 
greater, viz., submission to a Government of unlimited power. 

* * * I recognize no allegiance paramount to that which 
the citizens of South Carolina owe to the State of their birth or 
adoption. If the sacred soil of South Carolina should be pol- 
luted by the footsteps of an invader, or be stained with the blood 
of her citizens, shed in her defense, I trust in Almighty God that 
no son of hers, native or adopted, who has been nourished at her 
bosom, or been cherished by her bounty, will be found raising a 
paricidal arm against our common mother. 

This inaugural was spoken of as "the most successful display 
of eloquence ever heard.'' 

On the 10th of December the Union convention met in Colum- 
bia, and on the 14th presented to the legislature the following 
remonstrance and protest, and adjourned. Referring to this 

108 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

paper, Mr. Petigru, in a letter to Mr. Legare, says: "The first 
is the work of your poor friend, and the last was concocted 
between Poinsett and Memminger. " 

Remonstrance and Protest 
of the Union and States Rights party. 

The Union and States Rights party of South Carolina, assem- 
bled in convention, do remonstrate and solemnly protest against 
the ordinance passed by the State convention on the 24th day of 
November, last. 

1st. Because the people of South Carolina elected delegates 
to the said convention under the solemn assurance that these 
delegates would do no more than devise a preamble and consti- 
tutional remedy for the evils of the protective tariff without 
endangering the union of these States. Instead of which that 
convention has passed an ordinance in direct violation of all 

2d Because the said ordinance has insidiously assailed one of 
the inalienable rights of man, by endeavoring to enslave all free- 
dom of conscience, by that tyrannical engine of power, — a test 

3rd Because it has disfranchised and prescribed nearly one- 
half of the freemen of South Carolina, for an honest difference of 
opinion, by declaring that those whose conscience will not permit 
them to take the test oath shall be deprived of every office, civil 
and military. 

4th Because it has trampled under foot the great principles of 
liberty secured to the citizens by the constitution of this State in 
depriving the freemen of this country of the right of trial by jury, 
thereby violating that clause of the Constitution intended to be 
perpetual which declares that "the trial by jury as heretofore 
used in this State and the liberty of the press shall be forever 
inviolably preserved." 

5th Because it has violated the independence guaranteed to 
the judiciary, by enacting that the judges shall take a revolting 
test oath, or be arbitrarily removed from office, thereby depriv- 
ing them of the right of trial by impeachment, which by the 
Constitution of the State is intended to be secured to every civil 

6th Because the ordinance has directly violated the Consti- 
tution of the United States, which gives authority to Congress to 
collect revenue, in forbidding the collection of any revenue 
within the limits of South Carolina. 

7th Because it has violated the same constitution, in that 

James Louis Petigru 109 

provision of it which declares that no preference shall be given 
to one port over any other in the United States, by enacting that 
goods shall be imported into the ports of South Carolina without 
paying duties. 

8th Because it violates the same Constitution, and tramples 
upon the rights of the citizen by denying him the privilege of 
appeal in cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution 
and laws of the Union. 

9th Because it has virtually destroyed the Union, by care- 
fully preventing the general Government from enforcing their 
laws through the civil tribunals of the country, and then enact- 
ing that if that Government should pursue any other mode to 
enforce them, then this State shall be no longer a member of the 

10th Because the tyranny and oppression inflicted by this 
ordinance are of a character so revolting and the effects antici- 
pated from it so ruinous that the commerce and credit of the 
State are already sensibly affected and will soon be prostrated, 
and its peaceable and industrious citizens are driven from their 
homes to seek tranquility in some other State. 

The Union party of South Carolina in convention, do further 
remonstrate and solemnly protest against the project of a stand- 
ing army, proposed by a party in power, as dangerous to the 
liberties of the people. They would respectfully ask their fellow 
citizens, whether such an army must not be confessedly inade- 
quate to protect the Nullification party against the people of the 
rest of the United States should they resolve to coerce them. 
What other object therefore can such a force accomplish than to 
serve as an instrument of tyranny over their fellow citizens? 

This convention doth further protest against any effort by a 
system of conscription to force the citizens of the State from 
their firesides and their homes, to take up arms and incur the 
pains and penalties of treason, in support of a doctrine which the 
people were assured was pacific in its nature and utterly incon- 
sistent with any danger to the Constitution of the Union. 

Solemnly remonstrating as they hereby do against the above 
mentioned grievances, the Union party would further express 
their firm determination to maintain the principles which have 
ever been the rule of their conduct; and while on the one hand, 
they continue their unfaltering opposition to the tariffs; on the 
other they will not be driven from the enjoyment of those inalien- 
able rights which by inheritance belong to every American citi- 
zen. Disclaiming, therefore, all intention of lawless or insur- 
rectionary violence they hereby proclaim their determination to 
protect their rights by all legal and constitutional means and 
that in doing so they will continue to maintain the character of 

1 10 ^^/<f) Letters and Speeches 

peaceable citizens, unless compelled to throw it aside by intol- 
erable oppression. 

Thomas Taylor, President. 

Henry Middleton 1 

David Johnson \ jr- n • j . 

R- u J T A/r • r yice-Fresidents. 
ichard 1. Mannmg i' 

Starling Tucker J 

[Then follows the names of the members of the convention.] 

Done at Columbia, South Carolina, on Friday, 14th Decem- 
ber, 1 832, and in the 57th year of the independence of the United 
States of America. 

Attest: Franklin J. Moses. 

James Edward Henry, 
Secretary of Convention* 

President Jackson immediately took up the defiance which 
South Carolina threw down to the Federal Government. Gen- 
eral Winfield Scott was quietly ordered to Charleston for the 
purpose, as the President confidentially informed the collector, 
"to superintend the safety of the ports of the United States in 
that vicinity." Troops were ordered to collect within conveni- 
ent distance so as to act with efficiency should the occasion re- 
quire. Naval vessels were also sent. 

On December 10, 1832, the President issued a proclamation 
to the people of South Carolina. It began by refuting one by 
one the leading propositions of the Nullifiers. The right to 
annul and the right to secede as claimed by them was shown to 
be incompatible with the main idea and object of the Constitu- 
tion, which was "to form a more perfect Union." The right 
of the State to secede was strongly denied. The proclamation 
concluded in the following words: "Fellow citizens of my 
native State, let me not only admonish you as the first magis- 
trate of our common country not to incur the penalty of its laws, 
but to use the influence that the fond father would over his chil- 
dren whom he saw rushing to certain ruin. In that paternal 
language and with that paternal feeling let me tell you, my 
countrymen, you are deluded by men who are deceived them- 
selves or wish to deceive you." 

The people of South Carolina were astonished and thrown 
into consternation by the proclamation. To them it seemed 

*City Gazette, Friday, December 21, 1832. 

James Louis Petigru 111 

inconsistent and not in accordance with the theories that Jackson 
had been understood to hold. They ascribed his attitude on 
this question to his hatred of Calhoun. 

The proclamation of Jackson was received in South Carolina 
on the 16th of December. The legislature immediately issued 
the following resolution : " Whereas, the President of the United 
States has issued his proclamation, resolved, that his excellency, 
the governor, be requested to issue forthwith his proclamation 
warning the good people of the State against the attempts of the 
President of the United States to seduce them from their allegi- 
ance, exhorting them to disregard his vain menace, and to be 
prepared to sustain the dignity and protect the liberty of the 
State against the arbitrary measures proposed by the Presi- 

Hayne immediately set to work and on the 20th of December 
issued his counter-proclamation. It was a most ardent docu- 
ment; by some people called pugnacious; and was considered 
the most perfect for the occasion. 

In the counter-proclamation, in addition to the usual diffi- 
culties, he also was embarrassed by the protest and remonstrance 
of the Union and States Rights party, which could not be lightly 
disregarded. The proclamation was received by his adherents 
with applause, and by his adversaries with ridicule. 

Arms and supplies had been procured by the State govern- 
ment; it was decided to garrison the citadel. Men and women 
wore the blue cockade, and the State was ready for civil war, 
A spark at any moment would cause an explosion. General 
Scott with the United States forces and two gun boats were on 
hand to "pacify" the people. It is rather interesting to note 
that 2d Lt. Joseph E. Johnston, 4th Artillery, was at this time 
stationed at Fort Moultrie. 

Petigru graphically describes the situation in the following 


Charleston, December 21, 1832. 
My Dear Legare: 

Though I am staying at home and you are seeing far and 
strange countries, yet probably I am really in the midst of a 
scene more curious than those you have an opportunity of ob- 
serving. I wrote you I forget the date and told you of the great 

112 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

and overwhelming success of the NulHfication ticket. The 
election was hardly declared before Jack Irving got upon a 
table at the door of the State House and read the governor's 
proclamation calling the legislature, that is, the new members, 
on the 16th October. The proclamation had been prepared 
beforehand in anticipation of the victory. The legislature met 
and by two-thirds of both branches called a convention. The 
convention election went subsilentio. We ran no ticket in the 
low country, nor in any of the districts above but those where 
we had a decided majority. The consequence was they put on 
their ticket those aspirants for distinction that had never been 
blessed with such a testimony of confidence before. And the 
convention was in fact the plain tool of McDuffie and Hamilton. 
They passed without debate an ordinance which has gone far 
beyond what they had promised; nullifies everything and offers 
to the general Government no alternative except between sub- 
mission and secession. The legislature, which had adjourned 
after the convention bill, re-assembled on the fourth Monday 
of November and have been in session ever since. Our Union 
convention met on the 10th instant. We mustered very strong 
and the great majority of them were disposed for strong meas- 
ures. But Johnson, O'Neall and Manning were placed in a 
situation of great embarrassment. They had been coaxed and 
flattered as far as they could be coaxed and flattered and they 
were committed by speeches, declaring they would go with the 
State, etc. It had been confidently asserted that Johnson and 
O'Neal] would not take the test oath. But I soon found this 
was a mistake. Yet they were exceedingly averse to aflirm 
their allegiance to the United States, and urged the policy of 
making no pledge against obedience to nullification. They 
gave up in the end the first, and we conceded the last, leaving 
the inference that we would not take the oath nor bear arms 
against the Government to be drawn from what we avowed 
rather than from what we promised. You will read the report 
and the protest. The first is the work of your poor friend and 
the last was concocted between Poinsett and Memminger. It 
was understood that if we would not resolve to disobey the ordi- 
nance, but confine ourselves to the impeachment of it, the legis- 
lature would not enforce the test oath nor levy the 10,000 men 
which are to form the standing army of Carolina, and so far it 
seems probable that they will blink the ordinance. We re- 
mained in session from Monday to Friday and then adjourned. 
And the following Monday came the President's proclamation 
which you may well suppose created a monstrous sensation. 
They were going here to burn the old man in effigy, but the cer- 
tainty of raising a mob and Ben Hunt, in the absence of Hayne 
and Hamilton, being in command of the militia, they wisely 
receded from their intent. In the legislature, however, it has 

James Louis Petigru 113 

put the Nullifiers into a roasting ferment and what they may 
do is uncertain. In the meanwhile the forces of the general 
Government are concentrating at this place. General Scott 
is at Sullivan's Island, more men are daily expected and the 
revenue cutters in the harbor are on the lookout. What effect 
will these things have on the community? I believe a great 
many are amazed as in waking from a dream to find that which 
they considered one of the simplest things in the world is going 
to turn out the parent of war, prostration of commerce and a 
military government. 

I had a conversation with Carew to-day. He spoke guardedly 
but is evidently alarmed. Many of them say they have been 
deceived. That they were for constitutional nullification (Cal- 
houn nullification), and had no idea of what has come to pass, 
which is just what the Union men foretold. Yet whether they 
will be able to break the chains is doubtful. It is one of the 
most beautiful lessons of history and will prove very edifying 
no doubt to those who read it hereafter. The war and revolu- 
tion party are a decided minority, but they have got an ascen- 
dancy which gives them an absolute control over the weak minds 
of that numerous class who are afraid or ashamed to think for 
themselves. The idea of "going for my own State" is a stum- 
bling block. And the demagogue is in effect the State. The 
President's proclamation is a singular paper to be sure. It con- 
tains some high federal doctrine, which seems to come from Jack- 
son most oracularly, as if the priest was giving utterance to what 
the Deity forces from him, without any volition on his part. 
You will ask how we all feel.'' Like men in a revolution, care- 
less, heedless; eat, drink and be merry, for to-morrow we die. 
It will be hardly possible to come off without a sedition and the 
shedding of blood. If it was left to Governor Hayne it might 
be, but Hamilton don't trust him twenty-four hours to himself. 
The general opinion, I believe, of their own party is that Hamil- 
ton is as much governor as ever, except in name. And when 
McDuffie is present he is protector over them both. There is, 
however, an opposite in the House and another in the Senate. 
Frost, Ball, Noble in the House; in the Senate, Campbell, and I 
believe Patterson, relent against war and proscription — in fact 
against the letter and spirit of the ordinance. 

Martin, Earle and Evans don't wish to take the oath. And, 
strange to tell, old Gantt is a non-juror. DeSaussure and Rich- 
ardson are firm as a rock. Henry A. surprised us all by his 
intrepidity; he and Toomer were against the negative pregnant 
in the report, which, by professing obedience to what is lawful, 
implied the not distant probability of open resistance o meas- 
ures pronounced unlawful. They were for speaking plain. The 
people of Horry are perfectly willing to take arms They don't 
philosophize at all. The Spartanburg, Greenville and Lancaster 

114 ^?/<?j Letters and Speeches 

men are of the same way of thinking — they sympathize fully 
with the old man that disunion is treason. Your reflections on 
the "limitary cherub," who sets the march of mind at scorn and 
keeps men in the beaten track, are perfectly just. All our 
republican tricks, so keenly described by Mrs. TroUope, will 
hardly save us from the catastrophe of more polished States. 
The discipline of liberty is too severe. It is like temperance at 
a feast — a happy state of self-denial. 

I ought to include in this imperfect abstract something about 
religion. It flourishes more and more — fanaticism of all kinds 
spreads. Cooper is acquitted and extolled. Barnwell Smith 
and Robert Barnwell are full of the Holy Ghost, and it is an- 
nounced that Henry L. Pinckney will oppose Dr. Palmer for 
the church, if he does not oppose Colonel Drayton for Congress. 
I say nothing of European afi^airs, for I want you to tell me of 
them, I wish Charles could go, but am afraid he can't. Adieu, 
my dear Legare. 

Your friend till death, 

James Louis Petigru 115 


Repeal of Nullification 

One of the first acts of Governor Hayne was to appoint Ex- 
Governor Hamilton brigadier-general, and assign him to the 
command of the State troops which had been called out. Gen- 
eral James Hamilton, Jr., as he is hereafter known, immediately 
proceeded with his usual enthusiasm and energy to organize and 
equip the army of South Carolina. 

Both sides were ready for action. Calhoun had directed that 
no overt act should be committed, and with no small difficulty 
the leaders managed to restrain their excited followers. 

On the 21st of January, 1833, the Nullifiers held a meeting 
at the "Circus." Hamilton made a very fiery speech and was 
quite ready to precipitate the conflict. However, it was finally 
decided to defer putting into effect the ordinance of nullification 
from the first of February to the first of March. 

Many of the State legislatures had met; but none of them en- 
dorsed the action of South Carolina. On the 26th of January 
the legislature of Virginia passed an act offering to mediate be- 
tween the United States and South Carolina. Accordingly, the 
honorable Benjamin Watkins Leigh was appointed commis- 
sioner for that purpose, and arrived at Charleston on the 4th of 
February. He immediately requested Governor Hayne to 
communicate to the convention the resolution of the legislature 
of Virginia, and asked that the ordinance of nullification be 
suspended until the close of the session of Congress. He was 
assured, that from information they had of the bills before Con- 
gress, this would be done. 

On February 13, 1833, the president of the convention ordered 
it to convene on the 11th of March. 

On the 16th of January Jackson sent a message in which he 
informed Congress of conditions in South Carolina, and asked 
for the passage of an act known as the "Force Bill." He also 
referred in his message to the Supreme Court as the proper 

116 J^if^i Letters and Speeches 

authority to decide the constitutionality of the tariff. Calhoun, 
in reply to this message, declared that South Carolina was not 
hostile to the Union; and he made the point that the Nullifiers 
had always wished to get the tariff before the Supreme Court, 
but there was no way of doing so. 

On the 12th of February Clay introduced in the Senate his 
compromise bill to supersede all other propositions. This pro- 
vided that all duties over 20% were to be reduced one-tenth 
every other year for ten years, and then to be a general horizontal 
reduction of 20%. By an agreement with Calhoun this was 
carried out. 

The "Force Bill" was passed on the 26th of February, and 
the compromise bill on the 27th, and became a law on the 3d of 
March, the same day that the tariff of July 14, 1832, went into 

On March 11, 1833, the convention in South Carolina assem- 
bled. They immediately repealed the ordinance of nullification, 
and passed another ordinance nullifying the "Enforcement 
Act," and adjourned. It is not quite clear whether the last act 
was a joke, or was seriously meant. 

Everybody was satisfied except the extremists, who would 
have been glad to have had things pushed to the worst. Both 
sides claimed the victory, one party because the duties were 
paid; the other because the tariff was reduced; and the pride 
of both was satisfied. During the period of nullification 
Petigru was undoubtedly the head of the Union party, but after 
doing most of the work, with his accustomed modesty, he put 
forward his friends into the most prominent places; hence some 
historians claim the post for Poinsett,* who had occupied posi- 
tions of honor under the Government and was prominent on 
account of his scientific and social attainments. 

Petigru's letters of this period are humorous but earnest de- 
scriptions of events. 


Charleston, February 5, 1833. 
If you knew, my dear Legare, how happy one of your letters 
makes me you would think it unjust to feel or express any doubt 
of my zeal. As your letters come regularly, though at long 

*Pa. Mag. of Hist, and Biog., Vol. XII, No. 3. 

James Louis Petigru 117 

intervals after posting, I hope all mine will arrive in time. I 
received yours of the 6th December on the 4th instant. I had 
previously received those of 16th and 23d October and 20th 
November. Our two-penny resolution is smoking still, but the 
blaze has not yet broken out. The bold hand with which Mc- 
Duffie raised the veil and showed the people constitutional nulli- 
fication in the ordinance staggered the folks a little. They were 
not prepared for secession; they were not prepared for the test 
oath, but the chain of party is nearly as strong as the yoke of 
power. Few changes have taken place and those who were 
Nullifiers are Nullifiers still, and the catch word, "I go for my 
State," is an answer to all objections. Yet the legislature did 
not venture to follow the ordinance with equal steps. They 
gave ground on the test oath and the law which they passed to 
carry this part of the ordinance into effect requires all officers 
hereafter to be elected to take that oath upon entering into 
office; but those already in are to take it whenever they are 
called on officially to bear a hand in the execution of the ordi- 
nance. If they had pressed that oath upon the incumbents 
five judges would have walked, Johnson, O'Neall, DeSaussure, 
Richardson and (would you believe it?) Gantt. Our Union 
convention assembled on the 10th December; we mustered 
strong. I have already written to you about that and the 
President's proclamation, which came the day after we ad- 
journed. Like spoiled children the Nullifiers wailed aloud and 
screamed out that the President was coming to butcher us and 
all that sort of thing. The bills for carrying the ordinance into 
effect were passed. Hayne was made governor, Calhoun sena- 
tor, Barnwell Smith, attorney-general, and a law was passed to 
garrison the citadel in Charleston with sixty men. They find 
it difficult to raise this small force — only twenty-four are en- 
listed yet. Meetings, however, have been held and harangues 
made to induce the citizens to voliinteer to mount the blue 
cockade and offer their services to the State. In this thing they 
are successful enough; nor perhaps is it to be wondered at, for 
they are careful to tell them that there is no danger; that the 
Constitution is a shield and the President can't touch them. 
They sent Philip Cohen and Rutledge Holmes to the North to 
make purchases of arms, and have, it is said, laid in a great quan- 
tity. This is done openly. Secretly they have made arrange- 
ments on the great roads to Columbia and from Columbia to 
Charleston for provisions and subsistence. On the 21st of Janu- 
ary the association met in Charleston. They had Preston in 
addition to their city oratory and Governor Hamilton told 
them the chiefs had agreed to wait till 4th March to see if Ver- 
plank's bill would pass. That he had shipped a cargo of rice to 
Havana for a return of sugars; that he intended to let his sugars 
go into the custom house stores, but when the 4th March comes 

118 ^?/^j Letters and Speeches 

if the tariff was not repealed he expected them to go to their 
deaths with him for his sugars, which was received with great 
applause.* The President afterwards sent a message to Congress 
on South Carolina affairs, which has given rise to a bill reported 
in the Senate to empower the President to collect the revenue. 
The first section authorizes him to remove the custom house in 
case of danger to the fort. The rest is copied nearly from the 
law of 1792 for suppressing the whiskey insurrection and the 
embargo act of St. Thomas of Canterbury. This bill is now 
before the Senate and Webster appears as the supporter of the 
Constitution and the antagonist of Calhoun. Expectation is 
big with the approaching conflict between these champions. 
The first sound was only a preliminary, but it is plain Webster 
took the upper hand and Calhoun betrayed a most feverish 

In the meantime the eyes of men have been turned to Virginia. 
They were for weeks engaged on federal relations, nullification 
and the President's proclamation. At last they adopted reso- 
lutions condemning nullification; condemning the tariff and re- 
questing South Carolina to suspend the ordinance. Benjamin 
Watkins Leigh was elected to come to South Carolina and en- 
force this appeal. He is come; he arrived here on Sunday. I 
called, but he was out. On Tuesday the city council resolved 
that he be requested to consider himself the guest of the city 
and to dine with the worshipful council on Friday. My im- 
pression is from all this fuss that they mean to accept his medi- 
ation. I don't know whether to wish it or not. I am afraid 
it will only prolong the despotism that now prevails. For the 
power of the chiefs is complete tyranny, and while they can 
keep the minds of their followers up to fever heat they can do 
what they please with them. And if they suspend their action 
now the interval will be employed in agitation, and they will 
make it appear that Virginia is an ally. They have no other. 
Forsyth and Cumming have beaten them in Georgia. Their 

*Miss Maria H. Pinckney, eldest daughter of General C. C. Pinckney and Gen- 
eral Hamilton, imported a cargo of sugar in order to have a practical test of the 
working of the tariff law. It is said that General Hamilton demanded the sugar 
of the collector, Mr. James R. Pringle, stating that he "did not care a d — as to 
the amount of the tax, but declined to pay it on principle." The collector 
replied that neither did he "care a d — for the amount of the duty but would 
hold the sugar according to law." No soldiers, with drums and banners, were 
ordered out to capture the sugar, but General Hamilton published a rather sar- 
castic article in the paper concerning the collector. The collector, with blood 
in his eye, sought the editor and insisted upon knowing the author of the article. 
A duel was expected; however, wiser counsel prevailed and the matter was ami- 
cably adjusted and so ended this opera bouffe performance. Tradition does not 
record what finally became of the sugar. 

James Louis Petigru 119 

Milledgeville convention has proved an abortion. You know 
they recommend a convention of Southern States, or as many as 
would join, and books were to be. opened in all counties to take 
the votes of the people on the point. No books have been 
opened at all, except in one or two counties, and there the 
proposition was voted down. Troup has published a letter 
telling them to beware of conventions of all sorts and that there 
is no such constitutional remedy as they are in search of. 

In all the other States it has been the same way. Virginia 
is the only one that offers help and she offers only her advice to 
get out of the scrape. 

Yet there is a vague feeling of discontent and a tendency to 
embrace the new superstition in a considerable party in all the 
Southern States, and while South Carolina is in open sedition, 
with the elements of discord all around, we have too much rea- 
son to be alarmed about that explosion which a spark may 

As a matter of precaution the old man directed Mr. Pringle 
to cause the vessels entering the harbor to anchor under the 
guns of Castle Pinckney, and on the 1st of February the new 
regulation went into operation. Ogilvy seemed disposed to 
make some fuss about an Englishman that was stopped, but it 
went no further. The Mercury, now edited by Stuart,* mouths 
about it, of course, and considers it a gross insult to take no 
notice of the proceedings at the Circus on the 21st of January, 
which were an authentic declaration that they would not nullify 
in effect till March. It is, therefore, highly improper in the 
President to begin in February to prevent them. 

I approve highly of your notion of inditing a public epistle, 
address it to Cumming. It will take the attention of the 
Georgians, who are more likely to be influenced by reasons. 
You express with more force than any other man the feelings 
which are excited by a contemplation of the overthrow of our 
institutions, and I think you can do great good by such a letter 
among the people that are not totally perverted. Cheves did 
nothing by his essay and Alfred Huger did not even carry St. 
Thomas. It is very dangerous to tamper with the devil. They 
had given countenance to most mischievous errors, and when 
they would repair the error it was too late. 

We have in the harbor the Natchez and several cutters. 
Bankhead is on the island. Tantzinger commands the Natchez 
and Elliott is port admiral. I have been to Savannah, was re- 
tained by Dr. Minis, who was tried for murder. He was ac- 
quitted. It was a worse case than that of the poor fellow whom 
you prosecuted last May. The citizens of Savannah were 
desperately against him. They made up a purse of eight hun- 

*John Alexander Stuart of Beaufort, a brother-in-law of Robert Barnwell Rhett. 

120 J^ijc-, Letters and Speeches 

dred dollars for Seaborn Jones, who came from Columbus to 
prosecute. At a meeting of the people in Beaufort district All- 
ston* took the floor and poured a volley among the Nullifiers 
that shook them terribly. Young Hayne flew into a violent 
passion and used words that brought on a challenge and they 
were only prevented from fighting by the accidental arrival of 
Judge Huger in the neighborhood, who repaired to the ground 
and reconciled the dispute. f 

My wife receives your kind messages with great pleasure and 
requests to be remembered. Tom is in the Mediterranean, safe 
and sound when we heard from him last. Your mother and 
sister are well. Adieu. 

Yours ever, 


Charleston, March 5, 1833. 
I received on Saturday your letter of the 26th December, 
which was the greatest treat in that way that ever happened to 
me. I read it over and felt my face burn with anger and with 
shame. On Sunday I read it to Judge Huger, Mr. Pringle and 
Mr. Wm. Heyward and Commodore Elliott and the Judge in- 
sisted on its being printed. I doubted my authority, for the 
publication of such a letter is drawing the sword. The Judge 
proposed the suppression of the very strong passages, but I 
knew you would have a horror of the emasculating process; yet, 
in fact, I rose on Monday (that was yesterday), intending to 
print, when, to the astonishment of my weak mind, and, take 
care you are not astonished yourself, the morning papers con- 
tained the news received by the Journal express in New York 
and forwarded here by a vessel (in advance of the mail) that a 
compromise, a coalition between Clay and Calhoun has hushed 
the din of war. Thus it is still delirant reges, etc., and our great 
vulgar and little vulgar are too happy to bear all the expense 
for the privilege of taking sides. You will ask if any joyful 
bonfires have been kindled? If enemies have embraced? and 
the news of peace been hailed with enthusiasm? I have seen 
nothing like it. Strange to say I had been invited some days 
before to dine at Colonel Pinckney's that same day, and except 
Captain Martin, of R. N., there was nobody for me to talk to, 
and I never saw, certainly in that house, so much constraint. 
The enforcing bill is still before the House, and McDuflie has 
(just like him) given notice of his intention to prevent its pass- 

*The Allston referred to in the above letter was Ben Allston, of St. Luke's, who, 
unlike his cousins Joseph W. Allston and R. F. W. Allston, of Georgetown, was 
a strong Union man. 
■f A duel afterwards took place between them and Allston was shot in the leg. 

James Louis Petigru 121 

ing, by calling the yeas and nays, and moving adjournments till 
the end. It is probable that it will pass. But as the tariff is 
now put on the ground that they require, I suppose the conven- 
tion will repeal their ordinance and there will be no occasion for 
the powers which this bill gives the President. I can not sup- 
pose that Hamilton will be so crazy as to attack Fort Moultrie, 
for his sugar (twenty boxes) there, which has been imported, 
to play Hampden with. 

As I shall send this letter by Washington, it is certain you 
will see the papers as soon, which will give you information of 
all the President has done, and I think his proclamation and his 
message will astonish you. They are very extraordinary papers 
and remarkable for containing a great deal of that sort of truth 
which has become very scarce. You will see, too, the bill of 
Mr. Clay, as it passed. I can not for my soul tell whether it 
does or does not give up the principle of protection; and it seems 
to me that it does not. But will this tranquillize the country? 
No doubt till another Presidential election. I think that the 
present order of march is that Calhoun is to ride behind Clay. 
He is so false, however, and so eager that he will come out for 
himself if anybody asks him. And I think Clay had better look 
to his hostages. But is it not very strange to think of Webster 
and Jackson.^ It has been hinted, and I think not improbable, 
that Webster will be chief justice. The great debate between 
him and Calhoun on sovereignty. Constitution, etc., has not 
been printed yet. Everybody but Duff Green says that Cal- 
houn comes off but second best. The election of Duff Green 
as printed to the Senate is the most conclusive proof of a bargain 
between Calhoun and Clay that could be given. A wretch so 
odious could only have received a majority of votes by contract. 

Benjamin W'atkins Leigh, the delegate from Virginia to their 
high mightinesses, Hayne and Hamilton, left town last Satur- 
day. I saw something of him. He is a very amiable man; not 
ambitious nor brilliant in conversation and what would endear 
him to me is that he is an original; one of those old fellows that 
seem instinctively to get upon the weaker side. Yet what is 
this but honesty of purpose, which prevents them from adopt- 
ing opinions according to policy? With all this, however, I 
think Mr. Leigh looked on us Union men as no great politicians; 
in one word as men who can not be conservative without being 
federal. Now Virginia can make sure of the utile dulci. Mr. 
Rives votes for the enforcing bill and makes an excellent speech; 
in fact, one of the best if not the very best which the grand de- 
bate has called out, wherein, without cutting Jefferson, he fin- 
ishes Col. Calhoun. Leigh, I believe, could do that too. He 
evidently did not approve of poor Tyler's abortive attempt to 
sustain Calhoun's doctrine, but I could not ascertain the minute 
shades by which his opinions were separated from the heretics 

122 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

on the side of consolidation and the heretics on the side of 
State's rights. Leigh left us with a heavy heart. He thought 
the devil was coming. He was afraid McDuffie would balk all 
his plans for keeping peace. But he did not then anticipate 
the new turn which affairs have taken at Washington. 

Several of my nullifying acquaintances and quondam friends 
have asked me if I was not delighted? I tell them and tell them 
sincerely that though I am glad the evil day is put off, I am not 
sensible of any great happiness in thinking that instead of hap- 
pening to me it is reserved to my children, and a devilish evil 
day it will be. 

I sent off your letter to your mother yesterday by an express. 
I have not seen the boy yet nor do I know of his return, but he 
will no doubt bring a letter to be sent to the postoffice for you. 
They are in the country though. I saw your sister in town a 
month ago. 

Our races have been dull. Richardson has beat the whole 
world. Drove Johnson back discomfited to Virginia and broke 
Singleton down by distancing his best horse. In any circum- 
stances I would not have advised you to return; now there is 
no cause. Adieu. 

Yours faithfully, 

The following letter will be of interest if only for its mention 
of a possible "Southern Confederacy." 


Charleston, 15 April, 1833. 
My dear Elliott: 

* * * What have you been doing this great while? On 
the plantation I suppose. Do you hear much from the revolu- 
tioners lately? I believe they intend to open for a Southern 
Confederacy soon. Your quondam townsman is certainly point- 
ing that way in the Mercury and if it meets with favor I think 
the chiefs will support it. But they will not commit themselves 
just now. The people, I fain think, are settling down to a more 
composed and moderate tone. They are not so much inflamed 
about politics, it seems to me, and more inclined to mind their 
own business. These are good symptoms so far; they may be 
delusive however. It is your misfortune to be among the most 
excited people in the State, and I fear they will not cool till after 
the thing is abandoned by their leaders, which it will be, as soon 
as they are thrown upon the resources of the doughty islanders 
and the warlike pinewoodsmen. We who have got the chivalry 
against us must carefully cultivate the good will of our neighbors. 

James Louis Petigru 123 


Washington, July 1 5, 1 833. 
My dear Legare: 

You are surprised to see the date of this letter, or ought to be, 
for when one has lived the better part of his life at home nobody 
expects him to ramble abroad. But I have been very sick, 
growing weaker and losing ground, until at last, in making a very 
vehement speech for Dr. Schmidt,* about that old scandal of 
the base blood of his wife, in an action against Dr. Le Seigneur, 
I fairly broke down, and by a little fever and great deal of pain, 
hemorrhoids, inflammation of the bladder, etc., was kept within 
doors a fortnight. During that time poor "Brutus" [R. J. 
Turnbull] died and the benevolent public were rather disap- 
pointed that there was one funeral only, for it was such an open- 
ing for a coincidence that they could hardly reconcile themselves 
to the prosaic matter of fact when I got well. All my friends 
insisted so much on my travelling as soon as I was able that I 
yielded to their persuasions and left home on the 6th in one of 
the packets to idle away the summer at the North. Alfred 
Huger and I landed at Old Point Comfort. He wished to see 
Ben Huger and I took this route to see Charles Alfred, who is 
worse off than I am, for he is sick and hypped or hipt, whichever 
it should be, and I am not. He damns the Nullifiers more than 
any man I know. He quit their party after their success, to 
which he had himself greatly contributed, was settled, and has, 
in fact, a great deal to regret. He is gone forward to Phila- 
delphia. I came here on the 12th and go off this morning. 
Yesterday I waited on the President; was introduced by Mr. 
St. Clair Clarke. The old gentleman looked better than I ex- 
pected; gave me a very gracious reception; inquired about Poin- 
sett and Drayton, and regretted I was going to stay so short a 
time. I presume you know Col. Drayton is going to expatriate 
himself. He leaves Charleston in this month "for good," as 
we say, and will settle in Philadelphia. He told me Hamilton 
had written him a very friendly letter. What do you call that? 
After driving his first friend and patron into exile, to write him 
a letter full of sentiment on the subject of his change of domicile. 
The last thing I see of him (Hamilton) is that he is to deliver a 
eulogy on the character of Turnbull. 

I can tell you nothing about the coming election. Pinckney 
is the candidate. Whether he is the free choice of the Jacobins 
is sometimes doubted, and it is whispered that his friends 
crammed him on the party. But he will no doubt be the regu- 
lar candidate. There is only one way to defeat them, that is 
by dividing the Nullifiers; but I fear we have not management 
to do it. The thing to be effected requires only to get a half 

*Seepoj/, p. 125. 

1 24 J-^iJSy Letters and Speeches 

dozen of them to nominate old Warren, who would J6mp at it, 
but I am afraid it can't be done. In the district now repre- 
sented by New Rolls, Tom Williams and Clowney.are in the 
field and we have great hope of Williams's success^ In Pen- 
dleton Gisberne runs against Davis, with doubtful hopes. Pres- 
ton, strange to say, is so squeamish he will not havp Felder's 
seat. Is not this a commentary on life? The very' thing he 
has been after all his life is now thrown in his way without any 
trouble and he turns away from it. I had a talk with him at 
Columbia in May. I'm afraid the secret is in his deranged 
finances, but it may be mere caprice, though from his conversa- 
tion I did not think so. 

Martin stayed with me when he held the court in Charleston. 
I read your letter of 5th March to him, with which he was quite 
entertained and showed little sympathy for his party, but com- 
plained that you did not write to him and made me promise that 
I would tell you so. Martin's adhesion to the Nullifiers (and 
it was no more) is one of the unaccountable things that make 
me regard the republic with despair. By the way I must tell 
you that I have heard since I came here that you have uttered 
such sentiments, I mean doubts of the success of the Nullifiers, 
in Belgium and that our great men here don't like it. I believe 
they, one and all, undervalue the danger, and that we (who 
think the Constitution has but an indifferent chance for length 
of days) are the only persons who see the truth; but as a diplomat 
you ought to say very frequently much less than you think. 
Your letters are positively the greatest treat to me that comes 
from any quarter and in our little set they are read with a most 
lively attention more than once. Great heavens, I wish you 
had had the reply to Calhoun. The turn you have given to his 
example from Jewish history is infinitely beyond anything he 
got. If Webster had called him Jeroboam it would have been 
worth more than his whole speech. Yet I do not think it ad- 
visable for you to come out in a review of the debate under your 
own name. I think in South Carolina it could do no good. 
The majority of our folks are such citizens as Rome had in her 
worst days. No republic ever had worse as far as their duty 
to the United States is concerned. Here is one of the anomalies 
produced by our strange system: As citizens of the United 
States they are traitors, but as citizens of the State they are true 
men. In his immortal satire, "Absolom vs. Achitophel," Dry- 
den says of Sir William Jones, he 

"Could statutes draw 
To mean rebellions; make treason law." 

But law and treason are inseparably connected by our Consti- 
tution as it seems and the public spirit of the citizen is as fatal 

James Louis Petigru 125 

as his corruption. In South CaroHna nothing seems to be hoped 
for from reason, but Georgia and Virginia are the important 
points to be guarded now. It is clear that our Nullifiers mean 
to pick a quarrel with the North about negroes. It will take 
some time and many things may turn up in the meanwhile that 
we can't foresee either to favor or to destroy their hopes. But 
Nullification has done its work; it has prepared the minds of 
men for a separation of the States, and when the question is 
mooted again it will be distinctly union or disunion. I regret 
I did not see your mother and sister before I left Charleston. I 
called but did not find them at home. * * * 

Henry Cruger is married to Miss Douglas. It was so cun- 
ningly arranged that people assembled, as they supposed, to a 
christening of her sister's child and were surprised into a par- 
ticipation of the plot. I send you some newspapers, chiefly 
about Georgia, which will, I think, amuse you. I will not be 
home till October. Adieu. 

Yours faithfully, 

P. S. — Thank you for the newspapers; Gen. Bergeaud on 
property and the essay on the divisions in the ranks of the re- 
formers. Louis Philippe has shown more vigor than was ex- 
pected of him and will be obliged to do more before he is let 
alone. The other newspapers which you mention did not come 
to hand. I send you also the Journal of the convention. 

This case of Schmidt against Le Seigneur referred to in this 
letter is often referred to as an illustration of Mr. Petigru's 
remarkable skill in cross-examination: John Schmidt married 
Mile. De Rosignol, a lady born at Martinique. Their son was edu- 
cated at the North as a physician; on his return to Charleston he 
was unable to practice his profession because he was denied ad- 
mission into the medical society on the ground that he was guilty 
of the unpardonable sin of having negro blood in his veins. John 
Schmidt, who was a Union man, of course had command of Mr. 
Petigru's services. A suit for slander was immediately insti- 
tuted. Le Seigneur testified most positively that he knew the 
two mesdemoiselles De Rosignol at Martinique; they were very 
handsome and all the young men knew that they were colored. 
His testimony was most positive. Mr. Petigru produced some 
papers; Le Seigneur acknowledged the writing to be his; they 
were verses in French; he then with the permission of the court 
proceeded to translate them with the greatest seriousness, much 
to the amusement of the audience. He then asked Le Seigneur 

126 J^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

was it "the habit in Martinique for young gentlemen to write 
ditties to mulatto girls?" to which he replied, "Yes, sir; just the 
same as they do everywhere else." Another witness, a fellow- 
countryman, was called on to give evidence in the case and con- 
firm the charge. His belief was fixed, but it was founded on 
rumors, not on personal knowledge. The witness was none the 
less positive on that account. He had no doubt on the subject. 
Even in the church frequented by the lady she was said to be 
of doubtful blood, and was not permitted to sit in pews occupied 
by whites, but was restricted to the space set apart for other 
classes. How could a jury doubt after that.^ But, before the 
inference is accepted, the fact, as asserted by the witness, must 
be proved to be true. Was he stating what he knew? Had he 
repeated a report, not described a scene he had witnessed? It 
was soon determined by the counsel when cross-examination 
began. Mr. Petigru stood for a moment with a serious air, and 
his left hand stroking his chin, when suddenly he said to the wit- 
ness: "Mr. Chupein, have you ever been at church?" The 
witness was astonished and uneasy. "Sir," he replied, "that 
is not a proper question." But it was urged that he should 
answer and an appeal was made to the bench. The judge very 
blandly but decidedly determined that the question was a proper 
one and must be answered. The witness resisted still. He 
threw himself on the judge's favorable consideration. He said 
he was in a serious dilemma, for if he replied to the question that 
he had never been at church he would become odious in the eyes 
of his countrymen as an atheist and despiser of religious rites. 
"But if," he replied, "I answer that I have been at church, then, 
on the other hand, I shall tell one leetle dam lie." His examiner 
assured him that no further reply was necessary. 

Mr. Petigru also refers in this letter to Col. Drayton being 
"about to expatriate himself." 

At the dinner on the 30th of May, 1830, previously referred 
to. Colonel Drayton was violently assailed by McDuffie. At 
that time the lines between the parties had not been distinctly 
drawn, and Colonel Drayton, not proposing to be dictated to, 
joined the Union camp. He had succeeded J. R. Poinsett as 
member of Congress in 1825, and he knew that he could not be 
nominated at the ensuing election. He considered this injustice 
and ingratitude and decided to go among more congenial people, 

James Louis Petigru 127 

and moved to Philadelphia, much to the advantage of his family 
and his descendants. 

It will be noted that in a letter to Mr. Legare the year before 
Mr. Petigru said: "If a revolution is effected I am doubtful 
of my course. Should it come to an affair of force in the State, 
I must take my share; and if proscription and penal laws are 
enforced, I must emigrate. But in fact if the Union is severed 
my mind is made up to quit the negro country. But where to 
go? Aye, there is the rub." 

In after days he often regretted that he had not at that time 
gone somewhere north of the Potomac. But he said, "I would 
not part from my sisters, my friends, and all who depend upon 


Charleston, November 20, 1833. 
My dear Legare: 

* * * Calhoun is incessantly agitating. He lectures now 
on the necessity of a test oath. It is believed that the legisla- 
ture will pass a law imposing one. It is hard to say what we 
are to do. If they do not infringe the Constitution of the 
United States we have no remedy. And if they do it is ques- 
tionable whether we have any. How is such an act to be re- 
sisted? It is disfranchisement, but in what way can the mi- 
nority help themselves against two-thirds? I wish that I could 
see some way better than waiting for the ebb of popular infatua- 
tion; but I really see none. There is a hope in the compunctious 
feeling of the better part of the Nullifiers. Isaac Holmes, for 
instance, is resolutely against it; but he is almost the only man, 
now poor Martin is gone, that has intrepidity to resist, even if 
they have sense to see, the enormity of the demagogues. The 
popularity of Martin gave him more authority than any other 
moderate man, and I fear that in this, as in so many instances 
already, men will profess their respect for liberty and freedom 
of opinion till they have done everything they can to destroy 

I have received your letters of 9th and 10th September, and 
many newspapers. You complain of hearing seldom from me. 
Considering how unequal the exchange is, you may complain 
with justice. But consider, my dear soul, that it is not every 
one that, like you, can learn German in idle hours, and write 
letters like Pliny, for the entertainment of his friends. The 
high value I place on all you write induces me to send you letters 
in the hope of answers, but the want of novelty and the want 

128 J^ijc^ Letters and Speeches 

of interest in the things that I have to say make me often pro- 
crastinate the time of writing. 

You are right in ascribing to our people a ridiculous self-con- 
ceit that makes them, like Sir Balaam, ascribe all to their own 
wit and make no allowance for the great odds in their favor. 
It Would be more to the purpose if we were to wonder that there 
is so little done, instead of so much in the progress of improve- 
ment. The Union party, for the present, have the ascendancy 
in Georgia. Whether they will keep it is another affair. As 
I apprehend the Troup men have very generally come out NuUi- 
fiers. But the Clark party, with such portion of the Troup as 
would not swallow the test, are enough at present to control 
the State and I see that they begin to settle down upon the same 
nomenclature as in South Carolina, and talk of discarding the 
old names. It is very surprising that in this state of things it 
seems quite doubtful whether Troup himself is a Troup man. 
He has resigned his seat in the Senate. The step at this junc- 
ture, while the Union men are in the ascendant in the legislature, 
is justly regarded by the NuUifiers as a cold response, indeed, 
to their thousand invocations of the "Gallant Troup." I am 
very much gratified to learn that Cumming is likely to be his 
successor. I hope it is so. But is it to be supposed that in the 
pitiful combinations of such parties as Clark men and Troup 
men and Cherokeeland men such a person as Cumming can be 
appreciated? Whether he goes to the Senate or not if even the 
demagogues succeed in bringing on a dissolution of the Union 
he, and not Calhoun nor Hamilton, will have the first part in 
the South. 

There is some disturbance among the NuUifiers in relation 
to Cooper. You know there has been a great revival. Robert 
Barnwell, Barnwell Smith, Stephen Elliott, Wm. Grayson, 
Pinckney and many more than I can name are converts. They 
wish to purify their party of poor old Cooper. Another set are 
bent on maintaining him. Barnwell Smith broke ground on the 
circus on Monday night. It was a meeting of the party pre- 
paratory to the great meeting next Friday, when "his body is 
to come mourned by Mark Anthony" — and Smith announced 
the death of poor Martin and, after a warm eulogium on his 
merits, told them that if they venerated his memory they would 
respect his last words, and that only a few days before his end 
they had conversed fully and freely about the necessity of remov- 
ing Cooper, and that he (M.) had assured him that he would go 
to Columbia and move the trustees to do so. And upon this 
S. called on them to wipe off the aspersion from the party and 
from the State of being governed by infidel principles. There 
was little said there, and people seemed taken by surprise; yet 
I am greatly mistaken if it does not bring the Evening Post and 
Mercury into collision. If anything can break down the disci- 

James Louis Petigru 129 

pline of the party it is the opposition between the Revival and 
the Atheist party. If the latter sacrifice Cooper they may do 
with the State as they please, for very few of our religionists 
have any charity for those who are blind to the light of Calhoun's 
and McDufiie's revelations. 

The Turnbull monument is to be laid the day after to-morrow, 
the same day the oration over his dead body is to be delivered. 
Great preparations are making. Calhoun is to be received by 
all the volunteer companies, etc. I am sick and weary of all 
this flummery; I long for a little common sense. I must get me 
a taste for money. Avarice is the most innocent kind of excite- 
ment for a man who has reached " the middle ages." 

130 Life^ Letters and Speeches 


March-August, 1834 

Argument Against the Test Oath; Political Situation 

to william drayton 

Charleston, 26 March, 1834. 
My dear Sir: 

* * * South Carohna is under an evil star — that in this 
late age men should have the obliquity of mind to fall upon the 
very errors of the worst times is very extraordinary — and besides 
it is excessively disgraceful. The consequences that might have 
been foreseen have ensued. The mountaineers who are gen- 
erally on our side, received the test oath and Military Bill with 
a yell of passion. Here in the city people are so worn out and 
tired that the blow excited very little feeling. But the moun- 
taineers have taken the thing as violently as Nullification was 
taken. In fact the disorderly principles that Hamilton and 
McDuffie have preached are about to react. The Union men 
are anxious to show that they have no undue reverence for the 
law and order. It is rather surprising that the Nullifiers are 
not on the alert — they seem to be perfectly supine. In the mean- 
time the whole mountain region is in a flame. A convention 
met at Greenville last Monday. We were obliged to send dele- 
gates, but you may depend on it the most violent counsels will 
prevail, and unless the Court of Appeals declare the law uncon- 
stitutional or Hayne gives way, there will be a border war. 
The objections to this act are so strong that I should have the 
highest expectations of success, in the case which we have made, 
and which comes on next Monday, but unfortunately Judge 
O'Neill has been called home to his dying children and we have 
only Johnson and Harper — and those nullifiers have deceived 
me so often that I have no trust in any of them when a party 
question is at issue. Do you recollect that we spoke of the 
opportunities of female education in Philadelphia? Will you 
tell me what you think of the schools there and which of them 
you think the best — and do you give them any preference to 
the New York schools?* 

Yours truly, 

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and maintain to the 
*Original letter in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. 

James Louis Petigru 131 

utmost of my ability the laws and Constitution of this State 
and of the United States, and that I will well and truly obey, 
execute and enforce the ordinance to nullify certain acts of the 
Congress of the United States purporting to be laws laying duties 
and imposts upon the importation of foreign commodities, 
passed in convention of the State at Columbia the 24th day of 
November, in the year of our Lord 1832, and all such acts or 
act of the legislature as may be passed in pursuance thereof, 
according to the true intent and meaning of the same." 

This oath may be looked upon with derision to-day, but at 
that time it excited bitter discussion and complications even 
after the ordinance of nullification was repealed. To Mr. Peti- 
gru it was peculiarly abhorrent because it was unconstitutional 
and restricted the freedom of the citizen. 

In the struggle for the rights of the citizen he boldly attacked 
the constitutionality of this oath in the courts. 

The Argument of Mr. Petigru in the Case of Mr. Mc- 
Crady vs. B. F. Hunt, and Mr. Daniel vs. Mr. Meekin 
IN THE Court of Appeals of South Carolina, at Charles- 
ton ON THE 31sT Day of March, 1834. 

1st Hill South Carolina Reports 

A case that has excited so deeply the attention of the com- 
munity will no doubt receive the most serious attention of the 
court. To say that this is a constitutional question is enough 
to make it understood that the subject is one of the highest 
concern and interest; for a question of constitutional law exceeds 
in importance the discussion of a private right, as much as a 
general rule is of more importance than a particular decision. 
And if there is anything of which we may be justly proud, as 
an improvement in the science of government, it is that American 
innovation by which the judiciary is made coordinate with the 
legislative and the injured are authorized to appeal from the 
law to the Constitution. Nor can any case be imagined more 
worthy of the exercise of this high and solemn duty of the judi- 
ciary, than this in which the decision must effect, not merely 
the freedom of an individual, but the rights of many thousands 
of the people of this country to be accounted free; in which not 
the inheritance of a few acres only, but the birthright and por- 
tion of every man who does not subscribe to the prevailing creed, 
are at stake. 

The parties to the record are Mr. McCrady and Col. Hunt; and 
the office about which the dispute arises, is one of minor im- 
portance; an office, not only of small account in itself but in the 

132 Life, Letters and Speeches 

eyes of the parties perfectly insignificant in comparison with 
the principles which are involved. Between the parties to the 
record there is, in fact, no dispute. Col. Hunt consents to 
make the question for the sake of all who have an interest in 
common with the plaintiff; and Mr. McCrady pursues his right 
in behalf of thousands of his fellow-citizens, for the purpose of 
testing the validity of a law which incapacitates them from 
office. This civil incapacity with which we are menaced, ex- 
tends not merely to affairs in the militia, but to all places of 
power and trust under the authority of the State; and not to 
the right of holding office merely, but to every constitutional 
and civil privilege. For by the Ordinance of 1833 the principle 
of disfranchisement is adopted in the broadest terms of tyranny; 
and though the disability in question applies, in this instance, 
to military office only, there is nothing to prevent the extension 
of the principle to all civil rights and immunities whatever. 

The oath which Mr. McCrady is required to take is in the 
following terms: "I swear that I will be faithful, and true 
allegiance bear to the State of South Carolina." 

And he refuses to take it, because he acknowledges allegiance 
to the United States as well as to the State of South Carolina, 
and the authors of this oath, by their authoritative construc- 
tion, have declared that allegiance to the State is and shall be 
equivalent to abjuration of allegiance to the United States. 
The terms of the oath itself may not suggest the objection. 
The text may be ambiguous, but the commentary removes all 
doubt. Behold then the alternative of disfranchisement, which 
is submitted to the citizen to subscribe to a party test, or to 
swallow an ambiguous oath. 

Allegiance is derived from the barbarous Latin word ligeantia 
— it is peculiar to the English law, and there we must look for 
its proper signification. Fortunately we are at no loss for the 
most ample information concerning the character of allegiance 
in the monarchy which is its native soil. In Calvin's case, 7 
Co. 1, it forms the subject of one of the most curious and elabor- 
ate arguments among the judicial discussions of that period. 
It is called the bond of subjection between the prince and his 
subject — the tie by which the monarch holds his vassal, and by 
which he draws from the remotest corner to which he can re- 
treat. A claim which none but the royal hand can hold, and 
which the subject can never shake off. It is the same in effect 
with liege homage, an abject ceremony which furnishes a strik- 
ing illustration of the feudal origin of allegiance, and the pro- 
found subjection which it implies: "For when the tenant shall 
make homage to his lord, he shall be ungirt and his head uncov- 
ered, and his lord shall sit, and the tenant shall kneel before him 
on both his knees, and hold his hands jointly together between 
the hands of his lord and shall say thus: — 'I become your man 

James Louis Petigru 133 

from this day forward of life and limb, and of earthly worship, 
and unto you shall be true and faithful.' And then the lord so 
sitting shall kiss hirn." In simple homage there is a reserva- 
tion; as thus: — "Saving the faith I owe our sovereign lord, the 
king." But in liege homage, which differs only in this, that it 
is performed to none but the sovereign, there is no such saving 
(Co. Lit., 64, B.-l, H. H. 65). From Calvin's case and the com- 
mon law authorities, we learn that the qualities of allegiance are, 
that it is natural, universal and perpetual, and due exclusively 
to the king in natural person. So intimately is the original idea 
of allegiance connected with royalty, that it is said by Lord Coke 
to belong to the king, as an attribute proprium quarto modo — 
that is to the king and to the king always, to every king, and 
none but the king; omni solo semper. 7 Co. 12 A. 

In strict propriety of language, allegiance to the State, like 
citizen-king, is nothing more than misnomer. No phrase can 
be less apt to express the duty of a citizen, whose obedience be- 
longs to the law, than a word which implies most strongly and 
emphatically reverence to the person of the sovereign. We can 
easily see why our ancestors excluded from the Constitution of 
the United States as well as from that of South Carolina, a word 
connected with so many heterogeneous associations as allegiance. 
The wonder is that the noble example of plain dealing and sim- 
plicity which they have left us should be lost on their successors; 
and that we should see at the present day such an anxiety on 
the part of some people to put on the cast-off finery of the royal 

There is no doubt, however, that when terms, which express 
the relation between king and subject, are adopted into laws of 
a republic, they must be received in a new sense, with a modifi- 
cation of meaning corresponding to the altered character of the 
government; and so, in fact, we find the term allegiance used 
in some of the States. Neither do we deny that the State may 
require an oath of allegiance from the citizens. At least there 
is as much propriety in speaking of allegiance to the State as 
of allegiance to the United States. No one supposes that the 
government of the United States is supreme beyond the sphere 
plainly defined by the Constitution; neither does any one deny 
that the State is supreme within its proper sphere of action. 
As to the boundaries of power between the federal authorities 
and the State authorities, men have disputed from the dawn of 
the Constitution to the present day. And from the assumption 
of State debts in 1790 to the last debate on the incorporation 
of the Bank of the United States, the acts of the general govern- 
ment have been assailed, and defended on the same grounds; 
and truth requires us to add that South Carolina has been on 
every side of the question. But that the States, in the lan- 
guage of Mr. Madison, retain a residuary and inviolable sover- 

134 ^^/^j Letters and Speeches 

eignty over all objects not embraced within the powers of the 
federal government, has never been denied, amidst all the 
changes and contentions of party, — at least not by any men, or 
set of men considerable enough to obtain for their opinions any 
general attention. 

If the oath in question, therefore, stood alone, or upon the 
words of a military bill only, we should, without hesitation con- 
strue the obligation which it imposes, as an oath of fidelity to 
the State, commensurate with its reserved sovereignty and 
consistent with an equal fidelity to the United States within 
the sphere of the Constitution. But if the State authorities 
have set their own definition on this term "allegiance" we are 
not at liberty in the oath under consideration to construe it any 
other way; and no honest man can take the oath in any other 
sense than that which it would bear if this word were omitted, 
and the corresponding terms of the definition inserted in its 
place. Now the fact is that the authors of this measure have 
set a definition on the word "allegiance" which makes it, to all 
intents and purposes, a term of art, to express certain contro- 
verted opinions concerning the nature of the Constitution of 
the United States, and renders the oath in question a complete 
criterion of party — in one word, a test oath. There is, I appre- 
hend, a mistake that some people are liable to fall into in speak- 
ing on the subject, by confounding test oaths with religious 
persecution. For many people seem to imagine that the new 
oath is not a test oath, because it does not interfere with religi- 
ous liberty. But in fact all test oaths are political, not religious, 
in their objects; and if the test acts do sometimes put the prin- 
ciple of exclusion on religious opinions it is not against such 
opinions, as offensive to Heaven, but as dangerous to the State, 
that they are directed. In the age of persecution a sincere but 
misguided zeal for the honor of God, led to the punishment of 
the heretic, whether he outwardly conformed or openly dis- 

But test oaths were the growth of a later age; they were not 
exacted pro salute animi — for the spiritual welfare of people, in 
office; but had their rise, as well as whatever justification was 
attempted of them, in considerations of public safety. The 
Union of Church and State, and the king's supremacy, suffi- 
ciently account for the connection, real or supposed, between 
the security of the State and the exclusion from office of those 
whose religious opinions were at variance with the majority. 
The Dissenter and the Catholic were against the Church, and 
the Church was part of the State. It was in vain that they 
were willing to give any and every assurance of their fidelity to 
the State, as distinguished from the Church; for their interests 
were inseparably connected, and the distinction could not be 
admitted. In like manner the Union party are willing to give 

James Louis Petigru 135 

any satisfaction of their devotion to the State within its Con- 
stitutional sphere; but the difficulty lies in acknowledging an 
absolute supremacy; in subscribing to a declaration that Gov- 
ernor Hayne is supreme head of the Church upon earth. 

In Locke's works we find an account of the test oath of 1775 
by a masterly hand. It runs thus: 

"I do declare that it is not lawful, under any pretense what- 
ever, to take up arms against the king; and that I do abhor the 
traitorous position of taking up arms against his person, or 
against those who are commissioned by him, in pursuance of 
such commission; and I do swear that I will not at any time 
endeavor the alteration of the government, in Church or State." 

This oath would suit the present times, without any altera- 
tion besides that of putting State for king; and the authors of 
our test oath only repeat what the courtiers of Charles II said 
before them: that the public safety requires the oath, and that 
no one should complain of being excluded by it; because no one 
is fit to be trusted, that is not willing to swear to truths so plain, 
and to principles so clear. Yet the verdict of posterity has 
stamped the age of Charles II with its lasting reprobation; and 
those who upon a small scale are now making a similar use of 
power, may do well to bear in mind that they are copying an 
example from the worst of men and the worst of times. 

In looking over the ordinance of 1833 we find that allegiance 
to the State is expressly declared to be inconsistent with allegi- 
ance to the United States. The obedience due to the Constitu- 
tion of the United States is declared to be a subordinate duty, 
subject to the regulation of the Legislature, so that a citizen 
may actually incur punishment as a criminal for acting in obedi- 
ence to the Constitution of the United States; and to cover the 
whole ample provision is made, by an unlimited power of punish- 
ing offences against allegiance, for opening those detested 
sources of oppression, the laws against treason, and reenacting 
here the bloody tragedies of Scroggs and Jeffries. 

It is not wonderful that a new oath, speaking a language un- 
known to our Constitution should excite enquiry. Men are not 
to be blamed for asking what it is they are required to swear to. 
But where shall they search for the meaning of allegiance as 
used in this oath? Not in the common law, nor in the Consti- 
tution, but in the ordinance of 1833; and there they will find 
allegiance explained in a sense which renders it the symbol of 
a party — a sense in which it never was defined before, and which 
nothing but the necessity of having a conventional term to 
designate certain peculiar views of the Constitution, could ever 
have suggested. Allegiance which is absolute without being 
perpetual, is a perfect anomaly. Yet the ordinance, while it 
makes allegiance to the State paramount to all other obliga- 
tions, confines its existence to actual residence: for I know not 

136 l-ife^ Letters and Speeches 

what else can be made of the words "so long as they continue 
citizens thereof," unless they mean that allegiance begins when- 
ever any citizen of the United States enters Carolina and ends 
when he crosses the line. And what can be made of those words 
that speak of "obedience to any power to whom a control over 
the citizens of this State has been or may be delegated," unless 
they mean that the laws of the United States are binding until 
the State interferes and sets them aside. In one word, allegi- 
ance, as used in the ordinance, is only another word for the 
right to nullify, and that such is the real intent and meaning 
of it, no one having a regard for his reputation out of his own 
set or party, should venture to deny; much less can any one 
who values his character take this oath unless his mind be 
clearly satisfied of the creed which it is intended to enforce. 

The ordinance having thus established a party test and au- 
thorized the legislature to carry it into effect by suitable oaths, 
the next legislature passed an act to organize the militia of this 
State; the 10th section of which provides that every officer 
hereafter elected, before entering on the duty of his office, shall 
take a certain oath; and in order to determine upon the validity 
of that oath it is necessary to consider the subject in reference 
to the State constitution as well as to the ordinance. But the 
constitution has fixed the oath of office and the legislature have 
no right under the constitiition to legislate on the subject. 
Their authority then must be derived from the ordinance or 
the oath is void. The supporters of the bill are placed in this 
dilemma, that if the oath is passed in pursuance of the ordinance, 
it is a test oath; and if not passed in pursuance of the ordinance 
it is unconstitutional. It is indifferent to us which alternative 
is adopted, for either way the oath is bad; but the objection 
to the oath, as being contrary to the constitution, is palpable 
***** If the oath in the military bill is not a 
test oath, it amounts to the same thing as the oath prescribed 
by the Constitution to protect and defend the constitution of 
this State and of the United States, and it is just as far from 
reason to call it the oath of the Constitution as the oath of the 

But in fact this oath is doubly objectionable, for the very 
cause that it is ambiguous. Is it to be endured that a man is 
to be called on to swear to an ambiguous declaration? 

Among all the abuses of power, a certain pre-eminence is 
due to the singular wickedness and enormity of the wretch who 
caused the laws to be promulgated in such a way as to be pur- 
posely unintelligible. And if there was no other objection 
against the oath which our present rulers have prescribed to 
be taken by honorable men, under pain of disfranchisement, 
the ambiguity and equivocation which lurk in its meaning are 
sufficient to entitle it to the condemnation of all mankind. 

James Louis Petigru 137 

In these circumstances the duty of the court is plain. The 
free and generous principles of the law which the court is sworn 
to administer favor liberty. The warrant which deprives the 
humblest citizen of his liberty must be clear — much less can it 
be endured, that such a sweeping disfranchisement should be 
sustained by a doubtful interpretation. And as the legisla- 
ture has not thought fit to refer to the ordinance, the court will 
take the law as they find it, and if it does not conform to the 
Constitution declare it null and void. 


Charleston, April 24, 1834. 
My dear Legare: 

We have had our argument of the test oath, but no decision. 
The convention at Greenville took place on the 24th March. 
By Mr. Poinsett's influence moderate resolutions were adopted, 
in unison with the course we had adopted here, to wait for the 
result of an appeal to the judiciary, with an implication strong, 
however, that if redress is not obtainable in that quarter they 
know where they will find it. Our friend Pepoon offered a 
resolution, which has obtained him much notoriety, viz: to call 
on Gen. Jackson to redeem the guaranty of a republican form 
of government. This is unlucky, for it gives rise to a great 
deal of quizzing. Now, in fact, the excitement among the 
Union men in those districts is no joke. Our friend, the Gen- 
eral (Huger), feels some comfort when he is among those moun- 
taineers, for they partake of those strong feelings which carry 
him far ahead of the rest of us here. In fact, I believe he would 
rather lose his life in any effort between the Union men and Nulli- 
fiers than to accept peace with their consent, or, as he would 
say, of their condescension. The mountaineers respond to this 
sentiment and say they don't like to turn the quarrel into a law 
suit. However, Mr. Poinsett's resolutions were accepted, and 
I believe they have been acquiesced in everywhere but in York, 
where the Unionists voted them too moderate. The great case 
of McCrady vs. Hunt, which, like that of Sir Edward Hales and 
his coachman, is to try the Test Act, was to have come on the 
same day the convention met. But it was postponed till the 
31st. We met with a great discouragement when Judge O'Neall 
was called home to attend the last hours and funeral rites of two 
of his children. Out of six he has now but one. The court, 
therefore, consisted of only Johnson and Harper. I send you 
a copy of my speech, and in the newspapers you will find all of 
Grimke's that has been yet published. He spoke seven hours 
and bore away the palm from all competitors. The attorney- 
General and P. Finley argued on the other side. Their speeches 
are not yet out. I deeply regret that Grimke has taken occasion 

138 Life, Letters and Speeches 

in the publication of his speech to introduce a new fashion of 
speUing and to make it perfectly ridiculous; puts it on the ground 
of conscience, and is willing to suffer martyrdom for the truth's 
sake. In the controversy we are waging with the Nullifiers we 
labor under the disadvantage of being obliged to explain. 

When people hear that we are in a sedition on account of dire 
oppression, and that all the oppression we have to allege is an 
oath of allegiance to the State, they are very apt to think such 
complaints not worth listening to. At this time, too, the 
National Republicans are counting the Nullifiers and too much 
inclined to discourage any opposition to them. In such cir- 
cumstances, when we need it the best apology to overcome 
hasty prejudice and to induce the public to think a second time 
about a most pernicious precedent, as well as a most profligate 
evasion of the Constitution, it is deplorable that anything should 
be done to turn our case to ridicule. I am afraid we shall be 
thought to be at war with the alphabet and that many persons 
will take sides against us, less on account of Calhoun than Dil- 
worth. We have had no intimation of the opinion of the judges, 
except that they inquired if Hayne would enforce the Act pro- 
vided they kept the case under advisement, and on his assur- 
ance that he would not they adjourned on the 14th inst. and 
directed it to be argued again at Columbia on the first Monday 
in May. It is agreed to leave it now to the up-country, and 
Blanding and Tom Williams will be matched against Waddy 
Thompson and Franklin Elmore. Poor Blair, about the very 
time that you were pitying him for the office he had lost he was 
making a most public and lamentable spectacle of suicide in 
Washington. At first it was reported that he blew out his brains 
in the hall, but it appears that he did not heighten the interest 
of the tragedy in the English fashion by having the murder com- 
mitted on the stage. It was in his own chamber at his lodging, 
with nobody in the room but our old friend Murphy, sometime 
clerk of the Senate, now member of Congress from Alabama; 
that he went quietly to his dressing table, took out a pistol and 
in an instant was launched into eternity. He had said that he 
would do as much if he did not leave off" drinking, and it seems 
he had satisfied himself that the effort was vain. The feeling 
was not without some greatness of mind, but showing a mind 
lamentably deficient in proportion. It is doubtful who will 
succeed him, probably Manning. 

As the judges left the test oath undecided and the 11th was 
the day on which all the militia were to be officered anew, the 
election went on in the dark. Hunt declined, and after beating 
about for a candidate in his place without success, Gilchrist 
consented to oppose T. O. Elliott and James Smith was set up 
against Jerry Yates for major. The result was announced in 
the afternoon. We had lost all the field officers but Smith, and 

James Louis Petigru 139 

I was obliged to hear from everybody I met the same complaint, 
that our party were good for nothing; would not turn out, etc. 
Strange to tell, however, the next day, when the managers met 
to sign their return they found an error in addition and Gil- 
christ was actually elected. The test oath meantime is sus- 
pended and no officers have qualified at all. Governor Hayne 
has in readiness a store of commissions in a new form for forty 
years (since 1794). They say "the reposing confidence in your 
fidelity to the United States." He has put the State of South 
Carolina in place of the United States, and has a rigmarole oath 
on the back into which he has worked up the staples of all the 
oaths in being with the ordinance for a ground work. 

I hardly entertain a doubt that the court will cast the new 
oath overboard. But they have passed a bill for altering the 
Constitution, and if they carry the bill through the next legis- 
lature we shall have the same thing back on us next year. Our 
only hope is in the resistance of the mountaineers. The fear 
of civil blood, which would ruin the character of Nullification, 
may induce them to pause. Indeed, there appears to me great 
supineness among them. Hayne does not play his part with 
any life or animation. He is set down or never seen and I'm 
told he never entertains. Hamilton does not give the people 
half as many proofs of his care as he used to do, and the defence 
of Nullification seems to be left to the town bands of editors and 
pot house politicians and patriots in search of office. McDuffie, 
breaking down with dyspepsia, is to be governor next year, and 
Hayne is to be a judge as soon as a vacancy is found or made 
for him. 

One strange result of the unsettled state of things here relates 
to myself. I have sent my daughter Caroline to New York to 
school, and, singular, Mrs. Hamilton has sent her daughter. 
Without any concert we found that we were both in the same 
disposition and sent our children under the care of Mrs. Douglass 
Cruger. Adieu. 

Yours ever, 

Ratin vs. Bertrand is not arrived yet. Your two letters, 10th 
of February and 4th of March, I received together with some 
newspapers. It is very true Europeans are more sparing of 
words than we. It would take many great debates in Paris to 
one great speech. The only eloquent thing this winter from 
Washington is Clay's apostrophe to Van Buren, telling him to 
go to the President and ad- [the rest of the letter is lostl. 

140 I^if^'i Letters and Speeches 


Charleston, 23 May, 1834. 
My dear Sir: 

* * * We have just heard authentically (that is, Major 
Hamilton says the news from Columbia is) that the judges have 
unanimously decided and ruled the test oath to be contrary to 
the Constitution. Well done good and faithful servants: Long 
life to the free and governing principles of the common law. 

I thank you for the kind interest you took in making inquiries 
about the schools in Philadelphia. Circumstances have de- 
termined me in favor of New York. Henry Cruger was going 
there: and he and his wife offered to take charge of our child, 
and Mrs. Hamilton determined to send her daughter there, so 
we made it a joint enterprise, and the children are gone to Mad. 

I hope you are enjoying the recreation of spring weather after 
this tedious winter we have had. It has been cold and dis- 
agreeable here. And the rice crops are blackened by the late 
frosts; and the cotton planters have been obliged to plant over 
several times; appearances are much against them. 

I have some hope that peace will not be restored to the State. 
There is no doubt of it unless the Nullifiers push the alteration 
of the Constitution. Whether they will do so, whether they 
will succeed if they do, what will be the consequence if they suc- 
ceed, are all uncertain. They had just two-thirds last year in 
Senate. We gain a senator in Chesterfield. Lose one probably 
in St. Thomas and in Laurens. But what effect this decision 
of the court may have on our people I do not know. Perhaps 
the desire of peace may prevail over the spirit of party. The 
Nullifiers certainly have not made friends by their test oath. 
They are not as strong as they were in the Union districts. 
Whether they have lost their majority in any district is another 

Yours truly, 

P. S. — The old man at Washington is certainly getting into 
trouble daily. It seems to me that the only people in the world 
that his principles suit at present are the Nullifiers, and as they 
have no principle at all he loses even what he is entitled to. 


Charleston, 11 June, 1834. 
My dear Sir: 

I ought to have taken an earlier opportunity to answer your 
letter of the 1st, but hope you will be willing to receive my ex- 
cuse. The Court of Common Pleas adjourned on Saturday, 
until that was over I had a good deal to do. Besides I have 

James Louis Petigru 141 

contracted an exceeding bad habit, that of disHking the pen. It 
grows so much upon me that in self defense I beheve I shall have 
to make a point of writing a certain quantity every day. If 
something of that sort is not done it seems to me I shall soon 
be in as bad a condition as those who never had a writing master 
at all. 

Unfortunately the first rumour which we received of the de- 
cision on the test oath went beyond the reality. The judgement 
is by a majority only; Harper dissents and thereby gives the 
sanction of his name to the discontents excited by the decision. 
The first explosion was at Columbia and the temper and spirit 
of their resolutions were perfectly Jacobinical. The rage to 
which they gave way in Charleston far exceeded what I had 
supposed would take place and up to the time of the meeting 
at the Circus I was very anxious about the result. The ex- 
governor had a conversation with me and I really thought that 
when he began to raise his voice and speak of the future action 
of the party his eyes were lighted up with an expression of mis- 
chievous purport. The meeting at the Circus took place and 
there was less excitement than I expected. It was surmised 
that the legislature would be convened and a convention called. 
The Circus meeting did not allude to a convention and left it 
to the wisdom of the governor to call the legislature. The next 
day the governor responded to the call of the Circus by announc- 
ing that he should not call the legislature. The Circus resolved 
that the associations should be reestablished, but I am not sure 
that they will be able to rally the same numbers again. In fact 
the exhibitions of the last few days induce me to think the Nulli- 
fiers in the Circus have rather gone beyond the feeling of their 
men, and that the agitation will languish. Yet they will proba- 
bly have the same majority which they had last year and alter 
the 4th article of the Constitution by incorporating the word 
allegiance in the constitutional oath. In fact the word allegi- 
ance is not such a mighty terror, and as we have got rid of the 
supposition that the ordinance is to regulate the meaning of the 
oath, I suppose our people will take it. It is surmised that Mr. 
Dunkin will be added to the Court of Appeals. * * * 

Yours truly, 

142 ^i/<?) Letters and Speeches 



delivered before the Washington Society 

on the 

Fourth July, 1834 

By James Louis Petigru 

Published by request 


This day, fellow citizens, which recalls the Declaration of 
American Independence, brings with it the associations of a train 
of great events. We are irresistibly carried back to the con- 
templation of the colonies in a state of peaceful dependence on 
the mother country, and to a review of their subsequent progress 
through the risks and hardships of the Revolution, and the dis- 
orders of an unsettled and feeble polity, to the attainment of a 
free and stable government, in the adoption of the federal Con- 
stitution. If we could raise our minds to a just and lively con- 
ception of all that was done and suffered to make this memorable 
day a national jubilee — could we realize the scenes of this great 
drama — no lesson could be more instructive; no representation 
could be more powerful, to purify the feelings and amend the 

The settlement of the colonies was coeval with that struggle 
between liberty and prerogative, which in its progress kindled 
a civil war in England, and led to the expulsion of the reigning 
family. The early settlers were deeply imbued with sentiments 
favorable to a popular form of government, and this disposition 
was fostered by the circumstances in which they were placed. 
The territorial divisions were fixed by grants which the crown 
from time to time had made to individuals or companies. These 
grants were also charters of incorporation on a great scale, mak- 
ing the inhabitants a corporate body, with ample jurisdiction 
over subjects of a local nature. The colonies therefore were 
separate communities after the example of free cities, that have 
a particular government and a domestic jurisdiction. These 
political societies had no interference in the affairs of one another 
but they were all fellow-subjects. They acknowledged one 
sovereign, and the tie of allegiance was the common bond of 
Union. The legislative power of Parliament, never distinctly 
defined, was in practice limited in a great measure to the regu- 
lation of commerce, and the people claimed, and generally en- 
ioyed the privileges of the British constitution. Under a system 
thus mild and rational, the growth of the colonies was no less a 
subject of wonder and admiration than a source of unexampled 
prosperity to the mother country. 

James Louis Petigru 143 

But in the course of time the natural hostility between sover- 
eignty and liberty began to appear. The legislative authority 
which Parliament had always to a certain extent exercised in 
America, was made the foundation for the claim of absolute 
power, and the duty of the people of the colonies was perverted 
into the idea of an unconditional subjection to the will of Parlia- 
ment. The promulgation of such doctrines alarmed the jealousy 
of liberty, and the pretensions of Parliament were met in the 
spirit of determined resistance. At length an act of Parliament 
for raising a revenue in America brought the controversy to a 
point from which there was no receding. The common danger 
and the community of their rights as British subjects united the 
provinces at first in remonstrance and finally in arms. In vain 
did the advocates ot the ministry endeavor to justify their meas- 
ures. In vain did they urge " that there must be in every State 
a supreme, absolute, uncontrolled authority in which the Jura 
summi imperii, or right of sovereignty reside." Our forefathers 
had not learned that allegiance was due to any but lawful au- 
thority. Still less inclined were they to entertain the monstrous 
proposition that despotism is of the essence of government. No 
sophistry could impose upon them to admit that sovereignty is in 
its nature unlimited. They rejected as mere verbal criticism 
assumptions of power founded on the definitions of sovereignty 
and allegiance, and regarded as "vain wrangling all, and false 
philosophy," arguments designed to prove their allegiance in- 
volved the obligations of unconditional obedience. The phil- 
osophy which proceeds by experiment and induction is not more 
different from the learning that attempted to find out nature 
by reasoning from first principles than the views of the authors 
of American Independence, from all systems of government 
built upon shadowy abstractions. The American people went 
to war with the mother country for their inherited rights and 
privileges. The right of resistance belongs by the law of nature 
to every oppressed people, but our forefathers fought to retain 
the freedom in which they were born. The exemption which 
they claimed from all taxation, except by their own representa- 
tives, was in strict conformity with the British constitution, 
and with immemorial usage. When all measures of reconcili- 
ation had been exhausted; when the sword was drawn, and there 
was no alternative but revolution or treason, they took their 
ground with the intrepidity of men that could look danger in the 
face, and proclaimed the independence of the United States. 

Such were the causes and origin of the War of the Revolution. 
For seven long years did the American people wage a doubtful 
contest with an enemy that had attained the very highest emi- 
nence in national greatness; rendered implacable by wounded 
pride, and stimulated to incredible exertions, by the confidence 
of fancied superiority. Cold must be the heart that does not 

144 ^c/^j Letters and Speeches 

warm with the contemplation of this picture, and acknowledge 
with pious gratitude our obligations to the Almighty, that 
blessed the cause of our forefathers, and supported them through 
the dark days of their almost hopeless conflict. The strong- 
holds of the country were subdued, and many a disastrous battle 
dimmed the hopes of liberty. On many a field the blood that 
was poured out in defense of freedom lay unavenged; and many 
a mother wept for her fallen sons with bitter anticipations of 
her country's fate. But the spirit of the people was unsubdued, 
and the indissoluble Union of the States, which no jealousy 
could undermine, were the best assurances of ultimate success. 
Neither the want of arms, of money, nor of the necessities of 
life could shake the firmness of Congress, nor seduce the fidelity 
of the patriot army. The steady resolution displayed in the 
counsels of America, and the magnanimous sacrifices of her sons 
in arms, commanded the respect of the nations, and secured the 
alliance of powerful friends. The foe was broken by the energy 
of a resistance that would not yield; victory at length rested on 
the arms of America; and millions hailed with delight the star 
of peace once more resplendent over the land of freedom. 

The independence of the United States was acknowledged by 
the treaty of 1783, and a just cause was crowned with the most 
glorious success. A great revolution was effected and a people 
of British name and origin were irrevocably separated from the 
parent stock. 

But the glory of this day consists not in the downfall of power 
but in the establishment of a new and more beautiful order of 
things. Revolutions have been common, but it was reserved 
for the sages of America to bring back again the times of the 
Republic; to restore a name that had almost been forgotten by 
the nations — and to exhibit in these late ages the example of a 
Free Commonwealth. Here is the source of the joy and gratu- 
lation with which the return of this day is welcomed. This it 
is which has rendered the American Revolution a great event 
in the eyes of the world, and made it a resting place in the prog- 
ress of history. But the first difficulties only had been yet over- 
come; the consummation was still deferred and the United States 
was to pass through many trials after their independence was 
acknowledged before the promise could be fulfilled, and the 
people could repose "every man under his own vine and fig 
tree," in the conscious security of a just and stable government. 

Nor did it require less virtue to establish the Constitution 
than to overcome the arms of Britain. 

When the rupture between the mother country and the colo- 
nies took place. State governments were naturally and easily 
organized, because they were built on the basis of the Colonial 
governments But to establish a common jurisdiction in the 
place of that which had been swept away, was an undertaking 

James Louis Petigru 145 

in which it was necessary to build anew. Neither the same 
powers which the several colonies had recognized in the general 
superintendence of the mother country, nor the same forms 
were any longer applicable. The adjustment of the common 
duties which the war had imposed on the States and the regu- 
lation of their common interests required a superintending and 
controlling power. But to organize such a power required a 
new system for which the times afforded neither leisure nor 
experience. A union of the heart and hand was created by 
necessity; afterwards by the articles of confederation — such 
powers and such only as the exigencies of the times demanded 
were vested in Congress. Self preservation made the States 
cooperate in the common defense and preserved the Union in 
despite of the defects of the Confederacy. But the return of 
peace brought new duties for the discharge of which something 
more than the independent action of the States was necessary — 
a great public debt had been contracted, the channels of trade 
were obstructed, and industry was at a stand. To discharge 
this debt — to superintend the relations of peace and war — and to 
open a commercial intercourse with foreign countries were the 
duties of Congress; but the power of effecting these objects was 
everywhere wanting. The State governments were essentially 
local in their character. By the articles of the Confederacy the 
States were sovereign, but they were sovereign in a condition 
of perpetual minority; and the gratifications of State pride re- 
sulted in the dishonorable privileges of a legal disability. In 
separating from Great Britain the colonies had no design of 
separating from one another. On the contrary, a strict Union 
among themselves was indispensable to the freedom and inde- 
pendence to which they were heart and soul devoted. The 
general interests were intrusted to Congress; but in their feeble 
hands the public prosperity was withering away. The general 
confusion was increased by a disputed boundary with Spain, 
the hostility of the Indian tribes and the occupation of the west- 
ern country by British garrisons. The public creditor called 
in vain for justice, and private distress went hand in hand with 
national bankruptcy. 

Five years of embarrassment, weakness and confusion, suc- 
ceeded to seven years of glorious but desolating war — and a new 
revolution was approaching. The people of the United States 
were really fellow-citizens by birth: the several States were in 
fact but members of one body. The interests which the States 
could not regulate were essentially interwoven with the whole 
structure of Society, and for the want of a common jurisdiction 
the people were to a considerable degree deprived of the pro- 
tection of any government. The dissolution of the confed- 
eracy appeared to be inevitable — and the only way of safety lay 
in the concession of high, important and sovereign powers by 

146 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

the States. Such sacrifices, however, could only be expected 
from the most generous and enlightened patriotism. The love 
of sway is so natural to the human mind that the voluntary 
resignation of power will always constitute an exception to the 
ordinary conduct of men. The establishment of a national 
government, therefore, encountered all manner of opposition 
as well from the interested ambition of some, as from the honest 
fears of others. But sentiments more worthy of the virtuous 
days of the Republic, a sense of justice, a high feeling of national 
honor, a generous love of country at length prevailed; and the 
States adopted the decided measure of appointing delegates 
to the Convention of 1787. To this memorable council every- 
thing most venerable in character, most distinguished in service, 
and eminent in abilities, was seen repairing from all parts of 
America. Their duties were equally novel and arduous, and 
the difficulties which surrounded them almost insurmountable. 
During the whole summer, from May to September, they dis- 
cussed the nice and difficult balance between the States and 
the General Government, and the distribution of the powers 
with which the General Government should be invested. Nor 
did they close their deliberations till they had devised and com- 
pleted a system which, for comprehensiveness of plan, the ac- 
curacy of the method, and the harmonious adaption of the 
parts, easily surpasses the work of all former law-givers, and 
justly challenges the character of a masterpiece of wisdom. 

The unanimity of the Convention was a great source of joy. 
But the battle was not yet won — the Constitution was still to 
undergo the severe scrutiny of the States in Convention. There 
the debate was renewed with zeal, caught from the passions 
which most powerfully excite the mind. 

Every objection was urged which ingenuity could form, and 
every point was defended with all the skill of argument, and force 
of intellect. For a whole year the decision was suspended. In 
many a stormy debate the cause appeared to be lost, and in 
many a narrow division the Constitution was saved by a few 
votes. But at length reason triumphed over prejudice; the 
accession of 1 1 States terminated the struggle which the powers 
of chaos had maintained with the principles of order, and the 
long period of doubt was closed by the adoption of the Federal 
Constitution. Such were the trials through which our fathers 
passed, and such the difficulties of founding the seat of Liberty 
in this Western world. History affords no parallel of a people 
taking up arms in defence of their liberty, prosecuting the war 
with the highest fortitude and courage, to a successful termina- 
tion; and afterwards in time of profound peace, calmly discuss- 
ing, and deliberately adopting a free Constitution for the gov- 
ernment of themselves and their posterity. Nor were the actors 
in these great scenes unworthy of the parts they were called to 

James Louis Petigru 147 

perform. And as in the representation of Genius the plot is not 
considered perfect, without some preeminent personage who 
fills the highest part, and is distinguished as the hero of the 
scene; so the moral sublimity of this grand national exhibition 
is raised to the highest degree and perfected in the character of 
Washington. In him we behold a model of virtue and great- 
ness, to rescue the human name from obloquy, to teach men the 
truth of their celestial origin, and to revere in their common 
nature the presence of something noble and divine. Let the 
grateful task of commemorating the fame of Washington and 
his companions be committed to an eloquence more worthy of 
the theme. Their names are recorded in history, and there may 
every one who feels for the honor of Carolina read with exulta- 
tion that Rutledge, the pride of the South, and his compatriots 
were equally distinguished as the defenders of liberty, and the 
zealous champions of the Union. 

Thus was the settlement of things in the United States ef- 
fected; and those who, by their own good swords, had made the 
States sovereign, animated by a disinterested zeal for the public 
good, retrenched the prerogatives of the State to make the national 
government supreme within its proper jurisdiction. To estab- 
lish justice, ensure tranquility, and secure the blessings of 
liberty, were the high and noble motives of the authors of the 
Constitution. Does any one regret their choice.'' To appre- 
ciate their political wisdom, look around. The gloom which 
hung over America has been dissipated. No hostile tribes any 
longer disturb the peace of the frontiers. The Mississippi, no 
more a Spanish river, bears on its bosom a vast commerce, the 
produce of the Western country now converted into the seat 
of new and flourishing States: Commerce no longer languishes 
in our bays and rivers, but spreads its sails in every sea, and 
rides in proud security beneath the starry banner: The credi- 
tor no longer complains of violated faith; the public debt is paid, 
and justice waves her peaceful scepter over a land that smiles 
with plenty. But shall it be said that the necessity of the Union 
no longer exists.'* that the Constitution has served its day, and 
may now be consigned to its place among the trumpery of a 
by-gone age? God forbid — too often have the best hopes of 
men been blasted by the presumption of success; too often have 
the wholesome lessons of experience been supplanted by the 
flattery of those false friends with whom the summer of pros- 
perity abounds. Union and Liberty are essentially connected. 
Let presumption forbear and learn that those whom God has 
joined shall never be separated without incurring the doom of 
a heavy retribution. 

There are two dangers against which a free State must always 
provide, domestic faction and foreign conquest. The Federal 
Constitution is the only effectual safe-guard against both. It 

148 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

provides ample means against foreign aggression, and is the 
very best security against the tyranny of faction. Without the 
Union South Carolina would be a simple consolidated govern- 
ment; but in such a state, when a combination exists powerful 
enough to ensure a majority, laws afford to the proscribed mi- 
nority but a feeble security. That such combinations will take 
place is certain, for the tendency to party is inherent in the 
human mind; and they will be most prevalent in small States, 
because in them the intimate association of all the members of 
the community creates a more lively interest in the individual 
fortunes of every leader — brings the excitement of controversy 
into every house, and kindles the minds of all by the passions 
of a few. But the Federal Constitution keeps party within 
bounds by limiting the amount of power and patronage that can 
be obtained by getting possession of the States. To lay hold 
of supreme power it is necessary to surmount the barriers of the 
Federal Constitution, as well as those of the State Constitution. 
If the Union was abolished any party that gained the complete 
ascendancy in the State, would have all things at their com- 
mand—the appointment of Ambassadors, Generals, and Naval 
Commanders, with the direction of military forces, in addition 
to all the appendages of the present civil Hst. Such patronage 
could not fail to excite the cupidity of that class numerous in all 
countries, that desire to live on the public burdens; and the 
possession of supreme power would present to ambitious minds 
an object of the highest attraction. The contention for public 
favor would be carried on with inextinguishable zeal, where the 
prizes of success were so brilliant. The dominant party would 
be above all law, and the identity of State sovereignty and des- 
potism would be verified in fact. Nothing could be more falla- 
cious than the opinion that interest is the only ground of party, 
or that no parties are dangerous but those which are separated 
by a difference of interest. The truth is the other way. Such 
an opinion could only be suggested by a narrow view of that 
comparative exemption from domestic faction for which we 
are, in fact, indebted to the Constitution of the United States. 
The distinction between two governments. State and Federal, 
has a great tendency to unite the people of each State among 
themselves. But parties founded on difference of principle and 
opinion, aggravated by foreign influence, naturally the bane of 
Republics, would spring up in rank luxuriance among the people 
of the same State as soon as the barriers of the Federal Consti- 
tution were removed. Whatever therefore tends to destroy 
the Federal Constitution, instead of increasing liberty, strength- 
ens power; divides the people of the State, instead of uniting 
them; and opens the door to the excess of faction. But do not 
our own times furnish a new and instructive lesson on this sub- 
ject? The Union Party and the NuUifiers are divided by a dif- 

James Louis Petigru 149 

ference of opinion as to State Rights. And can there be a 
stronger illustration of the violence of party than is found in 
the fact that now, in the complete ascendency of party, the 
same arguments are actually employed against the minority, 
which the British Ministry in 1776 relied on against America 
to show that sovereign power can not be limited? Private 
rights must give way to Imperial Sovereignty of the State, and 
party zeal is not satisfied till it has been carefully and exactly 
demonstrated that a majority of two-thirds may well do what- 
ever any despot can inflict on his unhappy subjects. Kings 
would trample upon law by virtue of divine right — party leaders 
claim to do the same thing by virtue of the sovereignty of the 
people. That Constitution which sets some limits to the State 
Sovereignty needs no higher eulogy than the alliance thus 
avowed between sovereignty and despotism. 

The deplorable defects of party in the Republics of Greece 
and Italy are written in every page of their history. But why 
seek for foreign examples? If there be any abuse of power par- 
ticularly odious and revolting, it is the presumption of attempt- 
ing to bind the human mind in chains, and to make opinion the 
subject of penalty. And of all the people under Heaven, our 
fellow citizens of South Carolina, where a majority has so re- 
cently seen fit to change their principles, ought to be incapable 
of aiming such a blow against freedom of opinion. Yet even 
here no sooner was party ascendency complete than the reign 
of proscription began — by test oaths and pretentious threats of 
laws against treason. In March, 1833, a Convention claiming 
supreme imperial power, the Jura sutnmi imperrii, ordained that 
it should be lawful for the Legislature in their discretion to exact 
an acknowledgment of such supreme authority, by a suitable 
oath of allegiance, as a test of qualification for office; and to se- 
cure State Sovereignty by giving a free scope to the laws of 
treason. And in December of the same year the Legislature 
responded by vacating all offices in the militia, and requiring all 
the new officers to make upon oath that profession of allegiance, 
which the Ordinance required. A judiciary, of whom any coun- 
try might be proud, are now denounced for vindicating the 
Constitution from this assault. We still trust that the people 
will not consent to see the faithful guards of the temple of 
Liberty overpowered in the defense of their post. But if man- 
kind must have a new proof how surely justice is trampled under 
foot by party, and the judges who have defended the Constitu- 
tion from the first inroad of lawless power must be sacrificed 
to its rage, their decision will at least be an enduring record of 
the freedom that was enjoyed before the Test Oaths began, and 
an imperishable monument of moral firmness and judicial in- 

The sovereignty of the people is an axiom of Liberty. But 

1 50 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

that sovereignty is a shield to defend, not a sword to destroy the 
private citizen. It lives and moves and has its being in the 
supremacy of the Constitution. Apart from the attributes of 
constituted authority, it becomes undistinguishable from wild 
force and lawless power. It is not the natural right of man to 
overturn existing establishments, and to construct new govern- 
ments: for this is a right to which all men are entitled. But the 
sovereignty of the people is the characteristic of constitutional 
government; and the meaning of it is that all power is held in 
trust for the people, and all public authority exercised for their 
benefit. The rights and jurisdiction of an independent nation, 
whether under the form of monarchy, despotism, or a common- 
wealth, are called sovereign powers, and under our complex 
system those rights belong, some to the State and some to the 
United States. There is no place in the nature of things for 
any other sort of sovereignty. Why should we lose sight of the 
realities to wander in a field of barren abstractions? The Con- 
stitution of the United States is not a mere system drawn up 
from first principles, but a primary law, adapted to the existing 
state of things. If it makes distinctions which are inconsistent 
with the definition of sovereignty it is not on that account less 
obligatory. But even if there had been no necessity for it in the 
actual circumstances of the country, the wit of man could have 
devised no happier invention for the security of freedom than 
the partition of Sovereignty between the States as members of 
the Confederacy, and the Union as the superintending and con- 
trolling authority — a distribution which abridges the reach of 
power and shortens the arm of Government. 

These considerations would justify our zeal for the Union. 
But when it is remembered that war between the States must 
inevitably follow their separation; that schemes of conquest or 
of defense would lead infallibly to large military establishments: 
we are astonished at the bhndness of those who will not see the 
necessary connection between Union and Liberty. From the 
day that the Federal Constitution is abolished the sword will 
never be laid aside till the avenger comes and the tumult of fac- 
tion is hushed in the tranquility of despotism. The fate of 
unhappy Poland is before our eyes: and what a warning do the 
calamities of that country of many sovereigns, hold out to the 
people of these States. Brute force and superiority of numbers 
have triumphed over valor and justice, and swords drawn in the 
most righteous cause to which a gallant people ever invoked the 
favor of Heaven, are shivered in the dust. United among them- 
selves, the Poles might have defied the world and sent the bar- 
barian howling to his own deserts. But neither valor that mocks 
at fear nor the sympathies of all hearts in which the sense of 
justice is not dead, could save that devoted people from the 
fatal catastrophe of internal divisions. Let him who derides 

James Louis Petigru 151 

the Federal Constitution; who thinks there is nothing sacred in 
the bond of Union, enjoy the short-Hved applause of ephemeral 
popularity; but the profound wisdom and exalted public virtue 
of the founders of the Constitution will command the lasting 
veneration of mankind; and the meed of praise and honor shall 
be awarded to him whose name descends to posterity connected 
with the noble sentiment — " The Federal Union — // Musi be 

To preserve that Union should be considered now, as in the 
time of Washington, " the greatest interest of every true Ameri- 
can." Nor is it to be denied that the times are portentous of 
change. New theories concerning sovereignty and the binding 
force of the Constitution are abroad. Let us pass by the con- 
sideration of the effects that must ensue from principles that 
put the Constitution under the feet of a majority of two-thirds 
in any State, if those principles be carried out in practice; we 
need not dwell on the consequences of exclusive allegiance when 
disputes arise concerning the boundary of jurisdiction between 
the public authorities; we will say nothing of the lawfulness of 
establishing the creed of a party as the standard of orthodoxy, 
upon a subject so interesting to every freeman, so complicated, 
and necessarily giving rise to so great a diversity of opinion as 
the true balance of power under the Constitution. We take 
for granted that the new theory is not infidelity to the Constitu- 
tion, and the followers of this sect are really willing to remain 
within the pale of the Union. But let us consider for a moment 
the moral influence of the theory in weakening the sense of pub- 
lic duty. 

There is in morals a distinction between duties that are 
merely positive and those that are founded on the great princi- 
ples of justice. The distinction between allegiance to the State 
and obedience to the United States, implies that the one is 
natural and the other merely conventional; and that the duty 
of the citizen to obey the laws of the United States has no sanc- 
tion beyond that of a rule making a difference between two things 
in themselves indifferent. No one would pretend to make a 
merit of such obedience or to dignify it with the name of virtue. 
Patriotism is the sentiment which makes obedience honorable. 
But if the citizen owes no allegiance to the United States it is 
not his country and his obedience is at best but a mercenary 
service. If the Federal Constitution does not make us fellow- 
citizens it can be regarded in no other light than a foreign yoke, 
and every feeling of patriotism must be enlisted against it. The 
theory which makes selfishness the only spring of action may be 
compatible with the exercise of generous virtues, and the heart 
correct the errors of understanding. Opinions which are de- 
grading to the obligations of the Constitution may perhaps be 
harmless in practice; but it is difficult to conceive how these 

1 52 J^ije^ Letters and Speeches 

opinions can be enacted into law without becoming in some 
measure a rule of conduct; and when those who call themselves 
citizens of the United States are marked as enemies of the State 
it is impossible not to feel that the foundations are in danger. 
Force secures obedience in countries that are not free, but the 
Republic requires a more perfect service, the free will offering of 
the heart, the spontaneous affection of the people. Deprived 
of the support of patriotism, all constitutions are but dross. 
Though Washington sleeps with the mighty dead, we have his 
testimony in the solemn warning he has left us, that without 
a cordial^ habitual^ and immovable attachment to that National 
Union, which makes us one people, our faith in the Constitution 
is in vain. 

Another venerable name, now numbered with the dead, calls 
to us from the grave to stand by the Union as the Palladium of 
Liberty. LaFayette, the early friend of America, whose gen- 
erous life was one long struggle against tyranny, has terminated 
his earthly career. Many are the names in the honored roll of 
patriotism to fire the mind with the love of virtuous fame. But 
this distinguished son of France gained for himself a peculiar 
claim to our gratitude — we love to dwell on the youthful en- 
thusiasm, the high spirit of adventure that brought this young 
disciple of liberty from the Court of France to become the par- 
taker of the hardships of an American camp. It was not mili- 
tary glory but a noble passion, a zeal for liberty, a generous 
sympathy with a people struggling to be free, that made him 
prefer the rude tents of America to the palaces of kings. His 
profound veneration for the character of Washington was the 
ingenuous homage of a mind uncorrupted by factitious distinc- 
tions to true dignity and greatness. The same principles gov- 
erned his conduct through the whole of a long and arduous life. 
He saw with delight the day-spring of liberty in his native coun- 
try, and watched its progress with eyes of longing devotion. He 
was doomed to behold the cruel reverse of all his hopes; and to 
see again and again abortive efforts to establish a free constitu- 
tion overwhelmed by the blind rage of the multitude; destroyed 
by the base ascendency of demagogues, or crushed by the iron 
hand of military despotism. But to his latest days he preserved 
the same generous sentiments that had animated his youthful 
mind, and midst the wreck of European liberty still regarded 
the Constitution of the United States as the Beacon Light in the 
darkness of the storm. Yes, generous shade! thy pilgrimage 
is closed — thine eyes are spared the angviish which the extinction 
oithat light would cause to all who venerate the name of Liberty. 
Long shalt thou be remembered for unshaken fidelity to the 

cause of freedom. 

Faithful found 
Among innumerable false; unmoved, 
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified. 

James Louts Petigru 153 

And long may that Constitution, which claimed thy love and 
admiration, defy the rage of faction and perpetuate the Liberties 
of the Great Republic which owns thee for a citizen, and now 
surrounds thy tomb with the memorials of a Nation's Gratitude. 


Charleston, 11 July, 1834. 
My dear Sir: 

The decision on the Test oath was by no means so satisfactory 
as our first hopes. Only a majority condemned the detestable 
principle of a political creed, and the Nullifiers raised a yell 
when the decision first came out, that was proof of the most 
savage intentions. The fury of passion, however, has subsided 
in some degree. The part which Hayne took was much more 
moderate than was consistent with the temper shown in the 
meetings where resolutions had been passed on the subject. The 
Union officers receive their commissions and the object of politi- 
cal agitation seems to be to effect the alteration of the Constitu- 
tion according to the Bill that was brought in last winter. It 
seems that they will succeed for Warren who voted against it 
last year, has promised to vote for it under instructions of his 
parish — and A. Huger 'tis supposed will lose his election which 
gives them two votes — and will make their majority in the Sen- 
ate greater than it was. My opinion is that there is nothing in 
the alteration of the Constitution in this particular that can be 
brought into conflict with the Federal Constitution. The oath 
in the Military Bill was a Test oath, because it was in affirmance 
of the ordinance of 1833. The Ordinance establishes the dis- 
tinction between allegiance to the State and obedience to 
the U. S., and it was impossible that any of us should sanc- 
tion that distinction. But the alteration of the Constitution 
does not derive its authority from the ordinance, and the mere 
declaration of "allegiance to the State" without any words of 
exclusion or aggravation can hardly be regarded as unconstitu- 
tional. We shall oppose the alteration, however, — as unwise 
and unjust — for in fact they mean an unconstitutional thing but 
have not the hardihood to speak out. Should they do no more 
however than carry this amendment we shall acquiesce in it. 
Whether they will do more is vastly uncertain. Many of them 
are for punishing the judges and the best of them are not too 
good to do it if they were assured of immunity. But motives 
of policy will operate strongly against such schemes — and I am 
in hopes that in this case they will consent to behave honestly — 
from reasons of policy. 

I am, dear Sir, Yours truly, 

154 -^(/^j Letters and Speeches 


Charleston, August 1, 1834. 

I received your letter of 11th of June, my dear Legare, yester- 
day, and one of 27th of May a week before. I see with pain 
that your mind is not as much at ease as it was while your curi- 
osity was more excited. But it is only a passing cloud. He 
that can learn German to amuse him has resources that make 
it even criminal to be unhappy. It is as unreasonable as our 
friend Harper, who can take a quart with impunity, making 
shipwreck for the sake of one pint more. This reminds one of 
his opinion on the test oath, which came out long after the time 
all on account, his friends say, of his "forswearing their pota- 
tions." I sent the arguments of O'Neall vs. Johnson (as that 
model for an apprentice in the law, Master Plowden always 
calls them) and hope you got them, and before I commit this 
letter to the post I will rummage for a copy of Harper's, which 
is very well done for a thing of the kind, I suppose. But, posi- 
tively, all Nullification seems to me equally good, and I am 
serious in thinking Lewis Cruger one of the ablest writers on 
their side. There is something in this notion of turning the 
most important pursuits of men into an exercise of ontology 
that looks marvellously like setting bedlam loose and locking up 
the rest of the world. The eloquence and power of reason 
which I see everywhere arrayed in defence of Nullification, 
State sovereignty, etc., fill me with such a feeling of despair as 
we may suppose would operate upon those that would have to 
listen to the first outbreak of imprisoned reason exulting in the 
overthrow of the doctor versus the straight jacket. 

The first motions of the party after the decision were so vio- 
lent that I expected an immediate call of the Legislature and a 
new convention. Poor Gregg took that occasion to prostrate 
himself before Dagon. He attended the meeting which the set 
called in Columbia and distinguished himself by heroic abuse 
of the men who were assailed by popular clamor. Never tell 
that story any more about truth being somewhere. He has 
gone where it never was found yet. The party in Charleston 
followed in the wake of the choice spirits of Columbia, and deter- 
mined upon raiding the association and uttered many violent 
things. Hayne responded by a proclamation, thanking them 
for their sweet voices, but declining to call the Legislature. For 
this he has been greatly praised. I believe it was mere policy 
and nothing else. If they had gone to Columbia there would 
have been some strange doings and, perhaps, our friend, Pepoon, 
with his application for the "guaranty," would have been 
looked on with something of the feeling with which many a 
prophet has been regarded, after being laughed at. The 4th 
of July has now passed and it is evident that the party is con- 

James Louis Petigru 155 

solidated for the alteration of the Constitution. The toasts 
are distinguished for violence and vulgarity; and some slang- 
wanger says that Mr. Jefferson always went a great deal by the 
July toasts. The only man of the Nullifiers in Charleston that 
I have heard express a disapprobation of the test is Magrath. 
He would not attend the circus and has not, I believe, taken any 
part in what is since plotted. But he is, you know, so strange 
that it does not follow that he would not go as far as any of them 
for the oath when he is set agoing; for as far as I can understand 
him he has always been against everything in his party, but some 
abstract principle that few, I take it, could comprehend but 
himself. They have offered Holmes honorable retirement, 
which I advise him to accept. I don't wish any man like Holmes 
to join our party, I have seen too much of the company of gen- 
tlemen that can't sit, as Lord Brougham says, on the cold sack 
of opposition, to desire any more of them with us. In fact, it 
is childish to quit a party that is in the ascendent in order to 
leave the power without check or control in the hands of the 
worst men. Holmes is one of the few men whose heart has not 
been corrupted nor his understanding altogether enslaved by 
the drill of the association, and I think he can be more useful to 
the country in that party than out of it. 

There is some secession from the Nullifiers on the part of 
certain office-seekers. I believe Burrell is the leader of that 
respectable interest in the Commonwealth, but as yet their 
members are too few to promise any great help in the election. 
If any schism arises among them it will come from the Irish. 
In their anxiety to keep up the opinion that the Northern people 
wish to get their negroes away from them they have been pub- 
lishing in the Mercury that these late riots in New York were no 
test of public opinion, but were got up by the low Irish, who 
were the natural rivals of the negroes. Two or three more such 
pieces in the Mercury would tell more than a ream of Grimke's 
new orthography. These incautious expressions, however, 
will be glossed over, I suppose, and the growing ill-humor of Pat 
pacified before it breaks out at the election. In St. Thomas I 
believe Alfred [Huger] has no chance. His health is bad, and 
he has no more conduct for the management of a parish than if 
he had never heard of such a thing as policy. He was at home 
all the winter and spring, and in the course of that time never 
said or did anything to gain a friend or soften an adversary, but 
just the reverse. He has gone to Virginia again, to which place 
I ought to have forwarded your letter to him, but I sent it to 
Pendleton, believing he was there. I am sorry to say he is in a 
very bad way. His health probably is nearly as bad as he thinks 
it, and his spirits quite desperate. Nor is the Judge [Huger] any 
better. The ordinance has unsettled him. He was against 
going to law about the test oath, but for fighting. You may 

156 Life, Letters and Speeches 

well ask how, where, on what ground? Nor has anything hap- 
pened to me that I have felt more severely for a long time than 
the loss of his confidence; for to such a length did he carry his 
zeal that he has never forgotten our opposition, particularly 
mine. With every prospect of the Constitution being altered 
the question now occurs, what shall we citizens of the United 
States, resident in South Carolina, do? Can we take the oath? 
You will see it in one of the newspapers T send you. You will 
have observed that Judge Johnson has decided this question 
and I agree with him. But Judge Richardson will not hear of 
such a thing. He is for giving out, at least, that we will never 
submit, and he says that there will be a general emigration from 
the back country if the Constitution is altered. This puts one 
in mind of your colony. But, my dear soul, we are not the 
men to colonize. Your frontier folk are very unamiable and, 
as to political rights, we should, in such circumstances, hardly 
feel disposed to exercise them. No, if you return home go to 
New York if you don't go on the bench; with your advantages 
and talents I should not hesitate. And there is one thing pe- 
culiar to that city, there is no jealousy of strangers. Their 
first places are as free for Virginians as Yankees, as for the 
descendants of the Dutch. This comes I suppose of people 
feeling strong. Jealousy seems as natural to weak States as 
to feeble men. Now, I don't suppose any qualifications or merit 
would excuse the presumption of a stranger intruding into Dela- 
ware to compete with the natives. You know they have an 
executor's law there giving priority to Delaware debts, as being 
all specialties in comparison with the rest of the world. 

Judge how gaily time must pass from what I have told you. 

It is an undoubted fact that though that box — that valued 
box — has been in my cellar a month, I never have been able to 
find a friend to taste it with me, and considering it a sacrilege 
to drink such wine alone, it remains like something sacred with 
the seal unbroken. I send you my Fourth of July speech. 
Pray, don't laugh at the pious defence of our planetary system, 
which custom has made so reverend. Think of your own case 
and be careful of quizzing people that may have things to tell. 
I send you Berrien's too. I could not help laughing to see that 
we both ended with LaFayette, and I dare swear that the same 
peroration, or something like it, has gone the rounds from 
Georgia to Passamaquoddy. Your mother is at present on the 
Island. The heats have been excessive. Thermometer at 92 
— now the city is flowing with rain. If Cruger comes your way 
make me remembered to him and let him know his sister, Mrs. 
Hamilton, is on the Island and very well. Adieu, my dear 
Legare, and believe me always and altogether yours. 

The national politics are all embroiled to that degree that 
they are scarcely interesting. Mr. Chevalier had some good 
ideas. I had him printed in the Courier. 

James Louis Petigru 157 


August-December, 1834 

Closing Scenes in the Drama of Nullification; Pacifica- 

Hamilton and Petigru 

to william drayton 

Charleston, 12 Aug., 1834. 
My dear Sir. 

I received your letter of the 22d ult. which I read with the 
pleasure and attention that your advice is always received with. 
Your views respecting the Test oath and the alteration of the 
Constitution are so entirely the pattern of my own thoughts 
on the subject that there can be no doubt as far as my influence 
goes of the course of the Union party in relation to those sub- 
jects, and at first I was of the opinion there would be no diffi- 
culty in moderating the zeal of our friends to that standard. 
But I am sorry to find a great tendency on the part of some of 
them to carry their opposition to the alteration of the Constitu- 
tion as far as to the Test oath. Judge Richardson is the most 
conspicuous that I have had an opportunity of conferring with 
from the back country, and he is very disinclined to construe 
the amendment of the Constitution innocently. We have had 
several interviews about it and I have promised not to promul- 
gate my notions till the election is over, and he has promised to 
consider the subject. I saw a letter from Blanding which was 
very strong in the same view of things, that Judge R. takes and 
I am afraid that it is the prevalent way of thinking in the back 
country among the Union men. Yet I hope they may be tran- 
quillized between this and the close of the Legislature. There 
seems to be no chance of defeating the alteration of the Con- 
stitution. Our friend Holmes who is the only gentleman in 
their party that has broken ground against the oath is likely to 
be put out of the pale. Your surprise at the part that Hamil- 
ton has enacted was not greater than mine. I confess I was 
most painfully sensible of those qualities, which enter into our 
ideas of an agitator, a man born to disturb the peace of society, 
when I conversed with him after the decision of the Judges, 
when he was about to rally his men again and reestablish the 
States Rights associations. The Mercury of this morning con- 
tains an editorial which I do not think came from Stuart and is 

158 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

marked by a greater degree of moderation than anything that 
has appeared in that print for years. I am sensible that we 
must be confounded with the indiscriminate supporters of the 
President. Indeed many of the party in the back country are 
such. But considering the grounds we occupy in the contro- 
versy with the nullifiers it seems to me inevitable that we must 
support the President generally. We have just heard this 
morning of the death of Judge [William] Johnson and of course 
people are speculating about his successor.* Some of the law- 
yers would fain make me believe that I am likely to attract the 
attention of the President: of this however I have no notion — 
but if you are willing to return to Carolina I think that all par- 
ties would unite in wishing you to do so, and accept the office. 
You or Mr. Legare, if you are out of the way, ought to be the 
choice of Carolina as I think. What may be in agitation in 
Georgia I do not know — but it is presumable the appointment 
will be made there unless you are the Judge. 

The general opinion in the City is that the Judges of the Court 
of Appeals O'Neil and Johnson will not be molested. That 
Hayne will be placed on the Bench with a fifth Judge, who is to 
be Dunkin. We have resolved on running a ticket for Inten- 
dant and Wardens. There is some sedition in their ranks. 
And the mercenaries are making us offers every day — but our 
party has resolved not to buy votes — and in so doing we resolve 
of course to give up the best, perhaps only chance, of carrying 
the election. The dissidents are such men as Prendergrass — 
Bunell the Shoemaker, Robinson who was an auctioneer, Dursee 
who was formerly on the guard. The only thing I can observe 
in it is that there is less fanaticism among the mob about State 
rights. These men are perfectly rational and put the contro- 
versy on grounds that satisfy any utilitarian of willingness to 
make interest their polar stars. The practice of bribery is very 
tempting to those who give as well as to the recipients. If it 
was not so expensive I have no doubt it would become universal. 
I hope you got the copy of my oration which I sent you. 

Yours truly, 


Charleston, September 16, 1834. 
My dear Legare: 

T received yesterday your letter of 12th July, and read it with 
intense interest. I begin to think, after the third reading, that 
I know more about St. Stephen's chapel than if I had seen it 
with my own eyes, and congratulate myself more than once of 

*Judge Johnson of the U. S. Supreme Court, a staunch Union man, died in 

James Louis Petigru 159 

my good fortune that enables me to look at objects of so much 
curiosity which your letters, like magnifying glass, represent as 
clearly as if they were close at hand. Only one thing, my dear 
Legare, discredits your judgment, and that is the over-estimate 
you put on your poor friend's parts. Heaven has given me no 
more wit than just enough to feel and appreciate the works of 
genius without any capacity for execution. I read somewhere 
the other day a remark that coincides with your account of the 
House of Commons, that it is an assembly not very strong in 
orators, but vastly formidable as an audience. I admire your 
discrimination between the speeches in the House and the 
boasted reports in the newspaper. But it is not that part of 
the orator's art as separate from the writer's. The printed 
drama does not inform you what sort of an actor it was that 
played the part. If it could there would be no use in seeing the 
play. The difference between Parliament and Congress, which 
seems to be in the audience more than in the speakers, is, never- 
theless, a most important one. And I fear that in America we 
shall find it a great desideratum, the absence of silent members 
which, like the sturdy yeomanry, are a class that neither Kings 
nor schoolmasters can supply and without whom the tinsel of 
rank or rhetoric is equally useless. But I am sorry to see that 
the tone of your last letters is decidedly less cheerful than for- 
merly. I hope the re infecta has not brought you to Solomon's 
conviction that all is vanity; and that the restoration of your 
health will be attended with better spirits than the royal Jew, 
with all his means for enduring the burden of life, could boast of. 
As to your coming home, I've told you already in a letter I wrote 
in July (for, sluggard that I am I passed the month of August in 
such a drowsy condition that I wrote nothing and did nothing, 
and so my July letter is my last,) I say I wrote you in July that 
as Judge Johnson was gone and you were the only one I knew 
that was fit to fill the place, for which God knows how little he 
was fit, I wished you were at home or had some friend near the 
old man to nominate you. Mr. Pringle and Mr. Poinsett, with- 
out consulting me any further than to inquire in a roundabout 
way what T thought of such a Judgeship, have written to some 
one, I believe to the President himself, to let him know that they 
think me cut out (as they say) for a Judge. Wayne, of Georgia, 
as I have heard from Mr. Bullock, has written a letter to recom 
mend Col. Drayton.* I wrote to Col. Drayton also and told 
him, what is really true, that if he were nominated it would give 
everybody pleasure and me particularly. I would rather you 
or he were appointed than myself, and after you two I would 
have very great objections to anybody else. 

As to me, it is out of the question. I don't think it is the will 

*Wayne, of Georgia, was appointed. 

160 J^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

of God, and have certain information that it is not Van Buren's. 
For he told Tom Condy, or somebody in Tom's hearing, that I 
made a very unfavorable impression upon the people at the 
North last summer, which, to give the devil his due, was very 
plain spoken of Master Van, and makes me think him a much 
more open fellow than he has credit for being. My practice 
brings me about six thousand dollars a year in these bad times, 
and after all the dignity of the Bench is not equal to one thou- 
sand five hundred dollars a year, which is the difference between 
income and honor. One who could write like Sir William Scott, 
or draw conclusions like Chief Justice Marshall, and only such a 
one, would in fact, after the first congratulations were over, find 
that he had any accession of credit or influence by holding Uncle 
Sam's commission. So that you see, my dear Legare, that in 
giving way to you I am not enacting a great part; like the friend 
who resigns a mistress that he loves, and if you would ever 
return to Charleston, this is, I think, the only way it would suit 
you to return. I'm afraid you would find the Bar as disgusting 
as Cheves and Drayton found it when they revisited the haunts 
of their youth, and the fury of party is such that you would be 
in all probability excluded effectually from everything else 
except the Bible Society. 

We made a rally at the last election for intendant and wardens, 
and showed a front of so imposing a kind that the Nullifiers 
laid out about fifteen hundred dollars on the election, and beat 
us 240 votes. We are now concocting a ticket for member of 
Congress, members of the House and Senate. It is not so easy 
to find candidates when there is no chance of winning, and I fear 
we shall be sadly put to it for a Congressman. The others we 
can impress into the service, as it is a parish business, which, 
like riding patrol, must be taken in turn. Poor Pinckney, the 
present incumbent, has totally exploded. * * * 

There seems to be no sort of chance of rousing the dormant 
sense of justice among our people and the elections, which will 
turn on the alteration of the Constitution, will no doubt show 
an overwhelming majority in favor of the test oath. For though 
the alteration of the Constitution really amounts to nothing 
but an insult on us, it is voted for and supported by those, and 
I believe those only, who go the whole length of justifying the 
exclusion of every man from civil priviliges that will not swear 
"that Nullification is the rightful remedy." The equivocation 
to which the word "allegiance" helps them is agreeable to cer- 
tain leaders only, viz: Hamilton and Hayne. I have reason to 
believe that Hayne gives himself credit for this stroke of policy. 
The rabble of gentlemen and fools were intent on going forward; 
something was to be done to satisfy the spirit of reform and this 
was Hayne's scheme to keep on the windy side of the law and on 
the blind side of Demos. 

James Louis Petigru 161 

Against their wishes the House stuck the new oath into the 
mihtary bill, for they were so delighted with it as a test oath that 
they could not wait, but would swallow it raw. That gave us 
a fair opportunity of bringing their ordinance to a judicial scru- 
tiny. But when the Constitution shall have been altered we 
can not make it appear judicially that it is unlawful to swear 
allegiance to the State, merely because among the Acts of the 
Nullifiers there is a chapter about it which contains falsehoods 
and errors. However plain this may be, certain it is that on one 
side they vote for the amendment of the Constitution because 
they mean by doing so to declare their faith in the spurious 
chapter, and it is opposed on the other side as if they were voting 
upon the ordinance itself. I understand that Calhoun is with 
the mob thoroughly on this question, and wished to have his 
last revelation incorporated in the Constitution, which is a new 
instance of the close connection between imposture and delusion. 
I do not know any but two instances of decided opposition to the 
oath by Nullifiers — Holmes and Magrath. By the way, the 
latter has just left me, having come in and kept me back on this 
letter at least one hour. It is to be seen how far this opposition 
may grow into a schism, but there is not at present any immedi- 
ate prospect of hope to our party. Ah! if we had a really elo- 
quent man to state our case it might make a difference. 

But we have other griefs. The cholera has broken out with 
great violence in Savannah River — 250 negroes have died 
already. It began at Wightman's twelve miles above the town. 
There was no infection nearer than New York when the fiend at 
one bound lighted on the premises of our reservoir agriculturist. 
(It is the place that was Gen. Read's, and which was swallowed 
up by the old Mammon in double bank discounts and accommo- 
dations.) It appeared on my plantation last Friday, the 12th, 
and I have lost one negro certainly, how many more I can't say, 
as I have not heard since. It is making great havoc on all the 
plantations. Hamilton, who has gone there, writes me that the 
negroes are sometimes brought in without any premonitory 
symptoms in the first stage of spasm, and then there is scarce 
one cure in ten. But hitherto the deaths have generally been 
one in three. It is highly probable it will ruin me; that is, com- 
pel me to sell the plantation and what is left of the negroes to pay 
for the residue of the purchase. As yet it is confined to the 
negroes, as if, like the yaws, it was an African disease and it has 
not got northward of Savannah River, but it has spread to Ogee- 
chee. There is said to be yellow fever in the city, but all our 
cares are absorbed by the cholera so much that even the exis- 
tence of yellow fever is left doubtful. I must leave off to save 
the mail, for it is more expeditious to write by the Havre packet. 
Mrs. Pringle was so much delighted * * * [Rest of letter lost.] 

162 L-iJc-i Letters and Speeches 


Charleston, October 26, 1834. 
My dear Legare: 

We have lost poor Grimke.* The news of his death reached 
us last Thursday. He died near Columbus, in the State of 
Ohio. He had gone there to deliver a temperance oration and 
died of cholera after twelve hours' illness. There has not been 
in my time so general an expression of sorrow for the death of an 
individual. Every one seems to feel that such as he was our 
society contains no other like him. Was not his death in perfect 
character with his life.'' To go all the way to Ohio to die of 
cholera in the recommendation of temperance. The moist eyes 
and the sobs of the speakers at the meeting of the Bar yesterday 
were the most affecting testimony of his worth. 

We have had other causes to grieve. The elections have 
given the Nullifiers two-thirds in both houses and the alteration 
of the Constitution may be considered cetain. We made great 
efforts and rallied the whole of our party, but the majority 
retained an unbroken phalanx. The only considerable men 
who openly dissented were Holmes and Magrath, and they were 
neutral. It is to that neutrality that I was indebted for so large 
a vote — within 60 of elected. The Irish nation have never for- 
gotten that you and I backed them some seven years ago against 
the Corporation and Test Acts, and it is only wonderful that 
they did not openly rebel at this time. I believe they wait till 
the test oath is really established and reserve their alliance for 
the time when we are to have the law against us; then their 
fellow feeling, I suppose, will show itself distinctly. The major- 
ity is diminished everywhere, except in the rotten burroughs, 
and Rogers, of York, has beat Clowney, the sitting member, in 
the House of Representatives. In the next Congress we have 
two. Manning and Rogers. But Perry has failed in the contest 
with Davis by seventy votes. The Union party have also 
carried York in the election of members of the House, but the 
Senator, Sitgreaves, holds his seat for two years to come. 
There was a sort of explosion here on the first night of the elec- 
tion, which was near bringing on a crisis. The Nullifiers went 
in a body of three or four hundred to attack our quarters on the 
Neck. They had the night before broken into a house of ours 
in Queen street, demolished the windows and beat some of the 
people. The Union men were smarting under this insult, when 
the Nullies were instigated by their arrogance to repeat it; and 
the consequence was they were fired on and six of them wounded 
with duck shot. Upon this they fled pell mell and crowded to 
the Citadel to demand arms. Luckily, Parker refused them. 
Hayne and Hamilton came, and as members of the party excused 

*Thomas S. Grimk6 died while on a visit to his brother in Ohio. 

James Louis Petigru 163 

themselves from leading them to the attack. Hayne, to amuse 
them, moved that a subscription should be opened for the fami- 
lies of the wounded; told them if they doubted his courage to ask 
Hamilton, whom no one could doubt, and Hamilton persuaded 
them to wait till he had got the law on their side; with the prom- 
ise of leading them to victory and revenge. He sent a flag to 
Dr. Dickson, who was the most prominent gentleman in our 
garrison, and concluded a treaty. Dickson agreed to give bail 
in two hundred dollars for shooting into the people and both 
parties dispersed. I did not get there till the cartel was received 
and Dickson had gone to treat. The house stands near the lines, 
and was indeed a very defensible piece, and I assure you I found 
there about fifty of our men in excellent stomach for a fight. 
Had the NuUifiers renewed the attack there would have been a 
great deal of bloodshed. 

It is my impression that the Union men are now more excited 
than the NuUifiers. These are now disposed to moderate their 
tone, and it is doubtful whether they will do anything more than 
alter the Constitution. But I apprehend great difficulty in 
satisfying the Union party with so much. Any one that advised 
them to take the oath will be considered no longer a true man. 
You know my notions about this and that I don't think the alter- 
ation of the Constitution, per se, a cause for extremities. But I 
find it very difficult to induce even my friends to think so. I 
am afraid we shall have to call our Union Convention again and 
afraid of what the Convention may do. 

On the other hand, the Union party in Georgia has gained a 
most decisive victory. Every man on the Nullification ticket 
for Congress, even Wilde and Gilmer, who eschew the obnoxious 
title, and content themselves with being called States' rights 
men, left out, and in the Legislature a majority of nearly two- 
thirds of Union men. 

This clips the wings of Calhoun's ambition and is a bitter pill 
to our gentry. In fact the Georgia election turned on Carolina 
politics altogether, and the test oath was a leading topic in the 
controversy. They have managed very warily to keep clear of 
the law, but they have certainly been put to disgrace, first, in 
the judgment of the Court against them on the ordinance, and 
secondly, in the odium which their equivocating conduct has 
brought upon them in Georgia. The name of test oath will 
stick by them even if they pare away the amendment of the 
Constitution to nothing. 

Mr. Bacot is dead. It is supposed that Alfred Huger will 
succeed him, and I hope he may. He has been in Virginia all 
the summer and recovered his health. We put him up for Con- 
gress, and Pinckney has beaten him not more than 200 votes. 
It appears that the elections do not very materially affect the con- 
stitution of the two houses of Congress. But the change in the 

164 J^ij^-, Letters and Speeches 

Senate will be in the old man's favor. We have heard nothing 
yet of the successor of Judge Johnson. I wish you were here, 
for I really would rather you were in the place than any one else. 
If it is offered to me I ought to refuse it for reasons too many to 
need mentioning, but I should not probably have the wit to do 
so. In fact, however, there is no probability of it. People who 
have been to the North say that Taney will be the man, and in 
good earnest if I were the President I should appoint him, in 
spite of the Senate. The circumstance that he lives out of the 
circuit is not in fact a reason that is not conclusive, but it would 
be a plausible topic for the Whigs and Nullifiers. If he is not 
appointed either Wayne or Schley or some other Georgian is 
likely to be selected. Our friend, Col. Drayton, would like it, 
but he has been so condemnatory in his language respecting the 
President's removals of the deposits that he is probably as much 
out of the question as Berrien or Wilde. 

We have had a long and dull summer, and have got a poor 
cotton crop and a rice crop abridged most sadly by storm and 
cholera. This baleful visitation has disappeared for the present. 
There are probably near 1,000 negroes less on Savannah and 
Ogeechee since the 1st of September, when it showed itself at 
Wightman's plantation. It is singular that it did not ascend 
the river at all. It broke out at Wightman's and took all the 
plantations below, and spread to the south, as far as Ogeechee, 
but it touched none of those above. Though it went through 
my people, and we had no work done from the 12th September 
to 1st October, and generally ten to twelve down of a day, I lost 
but three, which was about lyi per cent. The loss on the other 
plantations where it prevailed was generally from 16 to 20 per 
cent. Though I have great reason to rejoice in getting off so 
well, still I am a great loser. Everything backward, and much 
further expense. 

Our friend Henry North has written a book, and been at the 
North all the summer publishing it. I understand it is a collec- 
tion of tales, and judging of our friend's view of narrative, by 
what he does in conversation, I have no doubt it will be charac- 
teristic and sprightly. 

Adieu. Yours in all time. 

Your last letter was 12th July and I received it in September. 


Charleston, 28 November, 1834. 
My dear Col. Drayton: 

The elections have passed and the cooling time between the 
electioneering and the meeting of the Legislature and I suppose 
you know all that was done and suffered by us. The nullifiers 

James Louis Petigru 165 

have an overwhelming majority in both branches, tho' the vote 
of the Union party is stronger than it was in the Districts where 
they were considerable enough to contend. I wish it was as easy 
to do, as to find out what is right — or what one thinks right. 
My sentiments respecting the oath are precisely yours. The 
Military Bill I could not compromise with, because it seemed to 
me not to admit a doubt that the oath in that bill was passed in 
pursuance of the ordinance — and believing the ordinance void I 
could not but hold the oath unlawful. Now I would take the 
view you do of the amendment of the Constitution. But I can 
find nobody to agree with me scarcely. The leading members 
of our party except Mr. Poinsett, will hear no explanation. On 
the other hand, the fanatical and hypocritical parties among our 
adversaries, are equally bent on the amendment — and from the 
temper of the times it seems impossible to foresee the issue. 
The Mountaineers are certainly as violent against the NuUifiers, 
as the NuUifiers are against them. I'm going to Columbia with 
the hope of making peace if I can — or preserving it. There are, 
however, many causes of irritation increasing daily. It is said 
that Mr. McCord takes the lead — and urges the abolition of the 
Court of Appeals. If he was really leading there would be some 
hope, for as he is a feeble man, his violence would soon bring on 
what they call indirect debility. But I am afraid, that Hayne 
or Hamilton are only in the rear of him because they have more 
sense; and know how to satisfy their moderate friends with words 
and their violent ones with assurances more to the purpose. 

I am aware that we have no chance of standing well with the 
large and respectable class that honor Gen. Jackson "Short of 
idolatry." But it is impossible for us to break ground on Presi- 
dential topics. The Gen. is against the NuUifiers who are ene- 
mies that we regard as the worst and hatefullest of their kind. 
Unless we can act with the NuUifiers we must support the Presi- 
dent — negatively at least. The attraction between ourselves 
and the Union party of Georgia also is very strong and they are 
thorough Jacksonians. The Union party here have certainly 
exhibited no subserviency to the President, for there has been 
very little said or written by us in his praise — since the era of the 
proclamation was at an end, and that of the Despots began. 
In fact we do not stand very high at Court, and it seems ques- 
tionable whether A. Huger whom we recommended wibtget the 
Charleston Post office. 

Yours truly, 

In regard to the Supreme Court, the rumor and pretty confi- 
dent opinion is that Mr. Wayne is to have the place. 

166 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 


Charleston, November 29, 1834. 
My dear Legare: 

Here we are in hot water knee deep; God grant we may not be 
knee deep in blood before long. The Legislature met on Mon- 
day and it is probable that the amendment of the Constitution 
is already passed through the House by an extraordinary dis- 
patch. They have written and sent for me to go to Columbia 
to consult with our Union friends, who are running wild. I fear 
me, there is no chance to persuade them to take the oath. If 
they will not, agitation ensues, but they don't know how to 
agitate. Agitation consists in opposing governments and keep- 
ing within the law. Now, from all I can gather of public senti- 
ment, our friends intend to transcend the law. I believe I will 
go, but I don't believe I'll do any good, and what will be done is 
hard to foresee. If the Legislature would adopt a resolution 
declaring as the sense of the Legislature that the Constitution 
as amended leaves the question of dividing allegiance to the 
judgment and conscience of every man who may be called on to 
take the oath that I think I could persuade a great majority of 
our people to take it. But of this I have no hope, for in fact a 
great number of the NuUifiers, much the greater part of them, 
desire to make it stronger, and the omission of words that would 
give it meaning arises not from a respect to the Federal Consti- 
tution, but from policy. On the other hand, the opposition of 
the Union party proceeds more from passion than reason. It 
is because the cup is tendered by an enemy that they swear it 
contains poison. Is it not a painful dilemma for the lovers of 
peace, the friends of order, to be placed in ? There is no man 
among the NuUifiers that I have the least influence with. Gregg 
has humbled himself to crawl into place; a pitiful place when 
held by such a sacrifice of personal independence. Edmund 
Martin is too stupid to see clearly the objection to the amend- 
ment, and I don't know anybody else in the Senate that is worth 
thinking of. 

The influence of [William C.j Preston has been exerted to pre- 
vent any assault on the judiciary. How far he has succeeded 
God only knows. Arthur Hayne has returned. I'rn afraid he 
can be of no use, if he is willing. Whether he is willing I don't 
know, having seen him only once. Congress meets on Monday. 
The old man has received an accession of strength by the recent 
elections. His friends were lately sanguine of a majority in the 
Senate. They are probably mistaken. The election of an 
Anti-Jackson Governor in North Carolina is ominous of the 
loss of a Senator there. But in Mississippi, New Hampshire, 
New Jersey, he has defeated his Senatorial adversaries. No 
appointment yet of postmaster in Charleston, and none of a 

James Louis Petigru 167 

Judge to fill poor Johnson's seat. But everyone thinks Wayne 
will be the man, which is as good an appointment as Baldwin. 
I write short because I am hurried. You will receive a news- 
paper with Wilde's letter to a party who asked him to dinner, 
which will, I hope, put you in a better humor after this lugubrious 
epistle. Adieu. God bless and keep you, 



Savannah, December 15, 1834. 
My dear Legare: 

All hail to the dawn of a brighter day. The spell of party is 
broken and Nullification in Carolina is no more than a recollec- 
tion. W^e have compromised and buried the tomahawk. Let me 
run over the history of those few days since I wrote, to prepare 
you for my journey to Columbia to join in a consultation with 
our few Union members about what was to be done. Before 
going T asked the leading members of our party to meet and talk 
the subject over. This was done at DeSaussure's and I had 
besides many outdoor conversations, the result of all of them the 
same — resistance to the oath and a Union Convention to pre- 
scribe the manner and means. As usual, my zeal was a great 
way in arrear compared with the general temper, for the young 
men and many of the old were all for the epic style, beginning by 
a plunge in medias res. I went to Columbia. Col. Chesnut 
took the chair and I was called on to make them a long speech. 
Professing, as I cordially did, that the oath should be an unlaw- 
ful thing tome as long as it offended the conscience of my friends; 
that for our people to take it would be breaking down the moral 
sense and feeling, not only of the party, but of the country, and 
that resistance to the oath was to be considered a settled thing; 
that there were three ways to resist: by the judiciary, by arms 
and by political agitation; that the first was inapplicable, for no 
judicial consideration of the oath could lead to pronounce it 
illegal, is repugnant to the United States Constitution, the intent 
and malice being cloaked under constitutional language; that 
the second I deprecated as repugnant to patriotism, contrary to 
Christian feeling and more than all, leading to defeat and dis- 
grace, and that my voice was for the third plan; that our simple 
communication, that we never would take the oath would prove 
of itself a tremendously strong measure; that they must either 
admit our members to their seats without any oath, (which I 
thought they would have a right to as the amendment applies 
to officers only, and a seat is not an office, and there is nothing 
requiring a member to be sworn at all except the Constitution 
of the United States,) or a third of the State would be unrepre- 
sented, and that in this day the attempt to carry on government 

168 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

without representation is absurd and abortive; that disaffection 
would spread and the ruling party be overturned, with great 
changes on all sides; that the members ought not to secede, as 
they talked of doing, but protest and call a Union Convention. 

I excited myself to the utmost to render these views agreeable 
and give them strength. There was a long silence, followed by 
several speeches, complaining of the "humble tone" of this 
exposition and breathing nothing but war. "My voice is still 
for war." I thought it best not to reply, but let men expend 
their bile and wait for cooling time. I learned at this meeting 
that our memorials had been very respectfully received the same 
day and referred, and, what was very significant, the bill referred 
with them and made the order of the day for Saturday. They 
put me on a committee to draw a protest and adjourned. This 
was Tuesday night. Wednesday things looked pretty dark. 
No interchange of visits or civilities among the members and a 
resolution introduced in Senate to take up the bill next day, 
instead of Saturday. On the next day the bill was taken up 
and Hamilton made a conciliatory speech. Richardson (J. P.) 
was our spokesman in the Senate, and acquitted himself very 
handsomely. (This is ex relatione^ for having some law business 
and my protest to write, I kept in my chamber.) But on the 
same afternoon, Thursday 4th, David McCord, of all the world, 
made up to Richardson, and told him if he would say on what 
terms or in what sense he would be willing to take the oath, they, 
that is David and his friends, would meet them and try to bring 
about a pacification. Richardson promised to consult his 
friends. Our little Senate looked on it when he mentioned it in 
caucus as intended to amuse, but appointed a committee to see 
what could be done. Judge Lee, (he was holding the Court in 
Columbia,) Tom Williams,* Phillips and, I think, WiUiam May- 
rant and myself were appointed. I proposed to them this reso- 
lution as containing a consideration that was consistent with the 
oath and with our duty. That the allegiance required by the 
proposed alteration of the Constitution is the allegiance which 
every citizen owes to the State consistently with the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. 

It was hard work to get T. W. to concur. Without Judge Lee 
I should not have succeeded. We went back to the caucus and 
reported it. To enforce it was left chiefly to me, and my best 
argument was that it was very likely to be rejected by the other 
side. I called on them to remark that the opening of a treaty 
by the Nullifiers was the happiest thing for us in the world, for, 
supposing that our terms were refused, we now had the whole 
controversy in the smallest compass, and could satisfy any man 
in the country by simply showing that they required us to swear 

*Thonias Williams emigrated to Alabama. 

James Louis Petigru 169 

to something not consistent with the Constitution of the United 
States. The great difficulty was to induce them to agree that 
the oath was capable of an innocent construction at all. So we 
authorized R. to give McCord our ultimatum, viz: this resolu- 
tion, the abandonment of the treason bill and of all assaults on 
the judiciary. Next day (Friday, 5th) the sky changed again. 
Burt — he is the new member from Abbeville — the successful 
rival of Wardlaw at the Bar and in public favor, had reported 
his bill against treason the day before; it was now printed. 
McCord was very shy, evidently afraid to go so far as to advocate 
the resolution, and as a substitute for it this was offered: "That 
nothing in the alteration of the Constitution is intended to 
affect the relations between the State and the United States. " 
And above all, the bill was in the same day here read through 
and received its third reading in both houses, and Saturday was 
fixed for its ratification. I then considered the accommodation 
hopeless. But as you will observe, all this time nothing had 
been said with anybody by anybody but Richardson and 
McCord, and I was told when I came from my business to din- 
ner at Hart's, (where we all stayed,) that Hamilton, whom I had 
not seen at all, had called twice in the course of the day. Phil- 
lips and Chesnut recommended me strongly to go and see him — 
and immediately after dinner I set off for Clark's. There we 
had one of the most characteristical interviews that ever occurred 
to me. 

I was under strong excitement and had determined in my own 
mind not to say a word on the subject unless he introduced it. 
So I began with saying, "I suppose you want to talk about Savan- 
nah River affairs." "Yes," said he, ".and other affairs." I 
told him we had come to the brink of the precipice and I believed 
it impossible to avert the necessity. It quickly appeared to me 
that he was up to the whole case, and saw the full extent of the 
consequences if the Union party resisted, and, what was more 
agreeable, in a few minutes I ceased to doubt his absolute and 
unconditional desire of peace. He read me his report on Fed- 
eral relations, which he had intended as a peace-maker. I 
told him what passed between McCord and Richardson, and 
found McCord had from him the resolution, but he had mislaid 
it, and when I repeated it he again became very doubtful if 
McCord was sure. Our conversation was a very protracted one 
and carried on, I assure you, with great anxiety. Finally he 
expressed himself satisfied with the terms of the resolution as 
free from the language of controversy, and not calling on the 
NuUifiers for a retraction and forming a consistent sequel to his 
report, but the report itself, as he assured me, was the subject 
of a vast deal of opposition, and if it should get out that the 
sequel was adopted from the Union party a rebellion in the ranks 
was almost inevitable. You may be sure it did not need much 

170 l-ije^ Letters and Speeches 

to convince me of that, for nothing could be more at variance 
with the promises of their gentry than to discard the ordinance; 
admit almost in terms a divided allegiance and give up their 
attack on those Judges that had struck down the authority of 
their Convention. I saw that the rank and file was really in 
pursuit of a test oath — and that no man but Hamilton could 
possibly bring them to bear the dose which they were now to 
swallow. All the leaders, however, as it seemed, were willing 
to assist him, and McDuffie, from whom opposition might be 
expected, was absent. After a very long talk I left him with the 
assurance that he was going to work as hard now for peace as 
ever he did for nullification, at the risk of dividing his party 
forever. And so he did. I made a report to the Unionists, 
and you have no idea how much better they liked the resolution 
now, when they saw that their adversaries disliked it and that 
it required a real sacrifice on their part to adopt it. It was 
agreed that the protest, (a most energetic paper,) should be kept 
back to see the end of the negotiation. The same night I got 
into the stage and left Columbia for Augusta, and did not get 
home till Monday. Hamilton wrote me a letter every day. 
At first his plan was to call a caucus of the party on Monday 
morning, but on viewing the ground he discovered so many 
difficulties that he changed his plan and thought it best to rely 
on private interviews, and belaboring the members. But on 
Monday he was compelled once more to change his plan, and to 
resort to the extreme measure of party discipline by calling a 
caucus for the extraordinary hour of 10 the next morning. This 
was to avoid the disadvantage of contending with John Barley- 
corn, a most potent auxiliary to Nullifiers of an afternoon. 
They remained in caucus, keeping the Legislature waiting till 
2 p. M., when the people came to the wise resolution that if their 
leaders turned a sharp corner they would even follow them and 
ask no more questions. 

As soon as the caucus adjourned the Speaker took the chair 
and the report of the committee on Federal relations was immed- 
iately taken up. A man from Union, called Lancaster, moved 
an amendment, to the effect that, whatever it was, the State 
was sole judge of what was due to the United States by any 
citizen of the State. To this resolution he rallied 32 votes, 
besides three men who excused themselves for voting against a 
resolution they concurred in, because the caucus had decided. 
What an apt illustration of Lancaster's principle — the caucus 
pro hac vice the State had determined. The report was then 
put and adopted — 90 to 28 — and Phillips got up and withdrew 
his notice of a protest, and the House resounded with applause. 
Then followed shaking of hands, warm congratulation and won- 
derment and rejoicing. In the Senate the minority was only 

James Louis Petigru 171 

The papers I send you and Hamilton's last note to me will 
give you a livelier idea of the whole scene than if I was to write 
on for an hour. I have no doubt that Calhoun was the adviser 
of pacification. 

If there be any more of this letter it is lost. It is a very im- 
portant one, as showing conclusively and in detail the part which 
Hamilton and Petigru played in tempering the zeal of their 
followers and restoring peace to the State. Fortunately there 
existed between these two leaders the most intimate friendship, 
and each, through his influence, could control the turbulent 
members of his party, thus saving the country from civil war. 

Mr. Petigru was always willing to join in a joke at his expense 
and ever ready, by a clever stroke of wit, to do away with all 
rancor of opposition; and without abating any of his own con- 
victions he retained through life the affectionate regard of many 
of his most zealous political opponents. 

Here his political career may be said to have ended; but he 
always took an active interest in the political welfare of the 
country. He served afterwards in the House of Representatives 
at Columbia, but he was always in a hopeless minority through- 
out the State. This he would sometimes jokingly explain was 
due to the fact that "his feelings were always with the under 

In reference to his being appointed to the Supreme Court, 
his letters show that he preferred the advancement of Mr. Dray- 
ton or of Mr. Legare. Having no political following excluded 
him from all prospects of holding office under the general Gov- 
ernment. Georgia at that time being in high favor with Jack- 
son, Judge Wayne, a popular member of Congress, was appoin- 

172 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 



Tribute to Chief Justice Marshall; Visits New York; 
Removes Daughter, Caroline, from School; Death of 
HIS Brother, Charles; Genealogy; Administration of 

After the death of Chief Justice Marshall, at the meeting 
of the Charleston Bar, in July, 1835, Mr. Petigru dehvered a 
most eloquent eulogy on the Chief Justice. This was included 
in the minutes of the United States Supreme Court, January 
term in 1836, and finally given a permanent place in 10th Peters' 
United States Supreme Court Reports, and is as follows: 

Death has removed from the sphere of his duties, John Mar- 
shall, the venerable Chief Justice of the United States, a magis- 
trate endeared to his countrymen by a pure and spotless charac- 
ter, distinguished by pre-eminent abilities, and illustrious by 
his long and varied public services. The sympathy of a whole 
people attends the funeral of a public benefactor, whose life 
conferred honour on his country. But the law and the legal 
profession of which he was the head and ornament, are, more 
than all others, interested and affected by this solemn event. 
His high judicial station was equally above envy and reproach; 
and the honour of official dignity was enhanced and ennobled by 
his intrinsic worth and personal merit. Though his authority 
as Chief Justice of the United States was protracted far beyond 
the ordinary term of public life, no man dared to covet his place, 
or express a wish to see it filled by another. Even the spirit of 
party respected the unsullied purity of the judge, and the fame 
of the Chief Justice has justified the wisdom of the Constitution, 
and reconciled the jealousy of freedom to the independence of 
the judiciary. 

While we bow with humble resignation to the inevitable doom 
of humanity, we may adore the goodness of Providence that 
spared his life so long to establish, by the authority of his vir- 
tues and abilities, the character of that tribunal in which he 
presided. His fame is indissolubly connected with the admin- 
istration of justice; nor can virtuous emulations of future judges 
aspire to a higher distinction than to equal the wisdom and to 
copy the example of Marshall. 

James Louis Peiigru 173 


Charleston, May 31, 1835. 
My Dear Legare: 

The last letter I received from you was that of 7th February. 
Mr. Simon's pamphlet and the newspapers, French and English, 
have come to hand since; but what can I say for myself, suffer- 
ing weeks and even months to pass obliviously as I have done? 
Vile indolence and procrastination alone must answer for it. 
Since the peace, or pacification, it seems as if we were really 
"the world forgetting" as we are "by the world forgot." It is, 
I confess, a most ungracious repose. Make all the allowances 
you can, but when you have done so the sum is that I am a vile 
offender — and you can not reproach me too much. 

What shall I say to soften the sternness of your pride? Shall 
I tell you of our petty politics and languid parties, public as well 
as private? You had just heard of McDuffie's inaugural and 
looked upon it as everybody, I think, did, as something more 
like madness than mischief. I really fear for the soundness of 
our Governor's intellect. He delivered that address after a 
treaty of peace had been confirmed, which he had supported and 
freely concurred in. But there is nothing like peace in that 
speech and he has been ever since viewing the unfortunate 
militia with strategy and the mimicry of military discipline. 
He has encampments in every brigade and rails against those 
spiritless citizens that think of ploughing instead of learning the 
use of the sword. Their first essay was at Woodstock, I svippose 
you know where that is, fifteen miles from town. Not one-half 
of his captains and lieutenants attended, and it was nothing 
more than a failure. The next gathering was to have been 
on the Pee-Dee, but that they had to give up altogether. In 
some other places (Barnwell, for instance,) they have done bet- 
ter. But, altogether, I don't think that he is doing much good, 
or much honor to any one but himself, and the militia will cease 
to be Nullifiers before they come to be regulars. 

The motion to reorganize the judiciary is the only speck now 
on the surface of our state affairs. There is no doubt that it 
had its origin in the profane test oath. But they pretended to 
be governed only by public motives free from all party, and had 
a great advantage in the folly or craft of Tom Williams, who 
supported it because, forsooth, he was never satisfied of the 
constitutionality of the Court as it now stands. This is [B. F.] 
Hunt's ground, too, and Lide W^ilson, who spoke and voted 
for years in favor of an Appeal Court, has also discovered 
that it is unconstitutional. Is it not strange that a written 
constitution, so far from insuring certainty renders everything 
more doubtful? I have written nothing and said little about it, 
for my only hope of the safety of the Court is in leaving the 

1 74 J^ifCy Letters and Speeches 

decision to the natural instability of the Democracy free from 
party. The heads are anxious, I think, to get out of the diffi- 
culty without any overt act. But, if it should be a question 
between Union and Nullification, the majority would unques- 
tionably rally to the party cry. We want a tub for the whale, 
and if nothing else is at hand the leaders will have to toss the 
judiciary overboard or amuse the monster with some new lie. 
But can we expect in such a state as this to maintain a respec- 
table judiciary? There is a fatal defect — the want of a Bar — 
and can there be any Bar in the Democracy? It has been found 
impracticable all over America. They disguise the truth by 
ambiguity and call the attorneys barristers, but they are attor- 
neys notwithstanding, and as long as the employments are not 
kept distinct the profession must continue a trade, and there is 
no order of men from whom fit Judges are to be selected and on 
whom the Bench can rely for assistance in the decision of causes 
or for support against popular clamor. 

I have been to Columbia twice since I wrote last, and have 
found nothing but kindness and civility from our late belliger- 
ents. Even Dr. Cooper and I have become quite scrumptious. 
It has gone so far that we exchange visits and little Johnson, too, 
is as civil as if we were the best friends. Do you know all that 
has been done concerning the college? In December, 1833, 
they turned out all the faculty, that is, they invited them to 
resign, and they did so. For Dr. Cooper they provided by 
re-electing him professor of chemistry, and Henry was placed in 
the chair. But the College sunk lower and lower. Last winter 
they virtually dismissed Henry and elected new professors with- 
out going into the election of president. Nott was continued 
with, I know not what professorship, and, as all the new pro- 
fessors declined, he and poor Mr. Park and the two Gibbeses 
have supported the weight of the College from that time. No 
arduous duty if you look at the number of students, about five 
and twenty, but truly herculean if the difficulty of reestablish- 
ing a fallen school be considered. In this second cast of charac- 
ters Dr. Cooper was removed from the College altogether, but 
employed about a republication of the statute law of the State. 
Henry was offered a professorship, which he indignantly refused. 
He keeps his old quarters at the president's house, and has 
leisure to ruminate on his brilliant career as a volunteer in 
Hayne's army and a politician. An election was postponed in 
December and promised in June. The day has been changed 
several times, from the first to the second or third week, and 
back again, but it is very questionable if any election will be 
made. Nott is exceedingly odious to the religious public, and 
he bravely declares he would rather quit the College than de- 
grade his freedom by going to church so much as once a day on 
Sundays. (Here I had to throw down my pen and have never 
been able to resume it till this morning, June 5, 1835.) 

James Louis Petigru 175 

There has been something new. The Bank of Charleston has 
set our citizens all agog for stock. The speculations were most 
extravagant and everybody gave into them till the subscription 
has all the characters of a real Mississippi schemer. The bubble 
consists in this: Subscriptions were to be paid in checks on the 
banks and for convenience it was agreed to let the money remain 
in every bank on which the check might happen to be drawn. The 
banks agreed to lend on condition the loans should be applied 
to no other purpose but the subscription. They began by dis- 
counting notes for $10,000, but as everybody ran to them for 
loans the sums swelled to more and more until on the last day 
of subscription half a million became a very common operation, 
the whole process consisting in the mere entry of so much credit 
to A. B. or C. without paying out a cent. In consequence of 
this the subscriptions ran up to eighty-one millions instead of 
two — this in the city alone. But the people in the country 
towns, who were in the rear of the spirit of improvement, sub- 
scribed only eight or nine millions. So that the whole subscrip- 
tion does not exceed ninety million, and the subscribers get one 
share for forty-five subscribed. If I had been blessed with a 
ray of genius, and had got a loan of $500,000, I might have 
subscribed $2,000,000, and got 440 shares and, as subscribers 
are now offered $20 in advance on their share, might have 
pocketed 8,000 dollars as easy as to call up in the mind so many 
phantoms, but simple man that I was, I thought it very brave as 
I had $7,000 in my hands as trustee to subscribe four times that 
amount for my constituents; the consequence is that they get 
six shares. This is the State of South Carolina. To the honor 
gained by Nullification they are going to add the riches of stock 
jobbing and enjoy in imagination boundless treasures both in 
fame and money. There is vast competition for the place of 
president of this new bank. Hamilton goes for it and will get it. 
He was one of the millionaires. Of course, you would not sup- 
pose he was in the lag of adventure. Close upon his heels, 
with as much resolution, but inferior lights, is our friend, Ikey 
Holmes, who tore his hair with vexation at the close of the play 
to find he had been attending to the small game and gone in for 
only four thousand shares instead of stocking boldly for the 
whole 20,000. As the whole capital is only $2,000,000, no one 
could subscribe for more than 20,000 shares. 

The general politics of the country I know as little of as you. 
Van Buren was unanimously nominated in Baltimore by a Con- 
vention fresh from the people, and Dick Johnson had more than 
two to one over Mr. Pierce. Everybody gives it up that V. B. 
will ride the great horse, but this nomination of Johnson, who 
is all sorts of a bank man, internal improvement and everything 
Anti-Virginian, except general humbug, will fix Leigh probably 
in his seat and prevent the dissolution of the opposition in the 

176 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

Senate. The old man has very nearly put everything under him 
and will retire with the honors of victory. There is a rumor in 
the newspapers that Mr. Forsyth is going to resign. I don't 
know what to make of it. They surely don't mean to separate 
Georgia and the Administration. Everybody must concede 
that the nomination of poor old White was a foolish thing of 
itself. Whether there is any hidden meaning in it, as I should 
have suspected and for a long time believed, seems every day 
more doubtful, and it appears now as if the old man was no more 
a dupe than his friends. Preston, it is supposed, was willing to 
raise White's flag here, and Pinckney has already done so. But 
the mass of the Nullifiers took it very badly, and McDuffie and 
Hamilton openly denounce it. Yet they will not be able long 
to keep the people from interfering in general politics, and this 
they know. For a while Daniel may enact the part they have 
gravely assigned him of solitary dignity and lofty contempt, 
but it is too dull a farce to entertain him long, and our politics 
will revert to the old questions of the ministry and the opposi- 
tion. It would be next thing to blasphemy to deny that public 
virtue is now in place; that is, the people do actually govern, 
as they did in the days of Jefferson, and I shrewdly suspect that 
our leading politicians will give in their adhesion to Van Buren 
within two years. If they do so you may make your own terms 
with them. I know for a fact that they think so too. And if you 
choose to come home in the fall I think you may very easily, 
fairly and honorably play a great role by bringing back South 
Carolina to the communion of Holy Church. I don't say this 
lightly, and if you are not promoted to St. James, or the Court 
of the citizen King, I advise you by all means to return. 

I must close this letter, though I have other things to say. 
But it is 10 o'clock, and I will not risk the spirit of procrastina- 
tion again. Adieu. 

Yours as ever, 


Charleston, 23 October, 1835. 
Dear Father. 

Mr. Porcher is the bearer of very heavy tidings for you as well 
as the girls. In poor Charles we have lost what we can not 
retrieve. As a man without any paternal partiality, he was 
worthy of all our esteem, for his noble disinterestedness and 
generous frankness of character. Among strangers we may find 
friends, and some who are his equal in character, many who sur- 
pass him in intellectual endowments. Of such a man however, 
anyone would be proud as a friend — how much more as a brother! 
But I submit. It is a recollection that I will always cherish, 
and tho' he is dead, I would not exchange the memory of what 


A//j//'.j ^ 

y , 

?/////'-> ^-~£ /'//Ay 

V // / // 

Book. Plate 

{Faeing 176) 

James Louis Petigru 111 

he was, for the long Hfe of thousands that survive. It is my 
wish that the girls should all come. None of us I am sure, are 
disposed to desert you, but you enjoy the society of your children 
more, when they visit you as they do now from time to time, than 
you would have done if they had all vegetated at home without 
ambition or improvement. I judge for you as I should judge for 
myself, and it is not my wish that my children should linger 
about me, when they can see the world and improve by better 
society. Mary would be very solitary left without Harriette; 
much more so than you without Mary, and Harriette is so much 
a part of my family, that it would be not staying at home, but 
going from home and neglecting the strongest domestic ties if 
she were to leave us altogether. I am willing to make a fair 
partition and let her stay with you in the summer, but can not 
give her up altogether after having educated her with my child- 
ren and as one of them. These observations, dear Father, I 
make not because I doubt your readiness to consult the good of 
the children even at the expense of your inclinations, but to 
show them how earnest I am, about their coming, for I know 
that they have such a sense of duty, as makes them incline to 
stay by you the more, because it is a sacrifice to give up the 
world. And if your circumstances required it, I should certainly 
think it their duty to do so. But I am sure you will pass the 
winter as pleasantly, and even more so without them. I wish 
you would let me know what you stand in need of, and it will 
give me great pleasure to send everything up. If you have made 
a short crop, don't let it trouble you, for you shall be supplied 
with money to make up any deficiency. 

I send you a letter that I have received from Jack; I suppose 
he is doing very badly. 

You will see a copy of a letter from Miss Pettigrew of Crilly, 
who is the daughter of your first cousin Robert Pettigrew. In 
addition to what she states, I can add from other information, that 
her father was a Solicitor of great eminence, and died upwards 
of 80 years old in the year 1816. And that the family have a 
good estate in the County of Tyrone. I have also received a 
communication from Thomas Joseph Pettigrew of London, a 
fellow of the Royal Society and gentleman of distinction. He 
is from the Scotch family and states that the tradition of their 
stock is, that, there were two branches of the family, who came 
from France at the same time; that, one settled in the West of 
Scotland and the other in the North of Ireland. That the time 
of their emigration from France is unknown, but, that it must 
have been prior to the year 1496, in the reign of James the 4th, 
as it appears from the Records that one Mathew Petigru then 
held lands under the Archbishop of Glasgow. I intend to make 
further investigation into the history of the Irish family, and 
hope to be able to obtain more complete information on the sub- 

178 ^(/^5 Letters and Speeches 

ject by the aid of Sir William Beechy, the great antiquarian. 
Our cousin Margaret's letter was addressed to a gentleman, who 
had been requested to make the inquiries of her by the corres- 
pondents of a friend of mine,* to whom I wrote on the subject. 
Her letter is copied by my daughter Caroline for your perusal. 
I intend to write to her and will confess that I am glad to find 
that we are so respectably descended, and that our Irish con- 
nexions are so creditable. I had anticipated the pleasure that 
your poor Charles would feel in these details, but it was denied 
to me. Adieu 

Your Son. 

The Charles mentioned in the above letter was the youngest 
brother of Mr. Petigru. He was educated by his brother. 
He entered West Point in 1825, and graduated in the famous 
class of 1829, being number 19 in a class of 46. Among the mem- 
bers of this class it is interesting to note such names recorded as 
the following: R. E. Lee, 2d; J. Allen (Smith) Izard, 4th; C. W. 
Hackley (mathematician), 9th; O. M. Mitchell (astronomer), 
15th; James Trapier of South Carolina; Theopolus Holmes, of 
North Carolina, 44th, and Richard Screven, of South Carolina, 

In 1833 he was transferred to the Ordnance. There is a tra- 
dition that he exchanged with his friend Captain Ramsey, who 
had been recently married, and went in his place to Florida 
during the Seminole war. He died October 6, 1835, aged 29, 
and was buried at Appilachicola. 


Charleston, 25th November, 1835. 
Dear Madam: 

* * * It is so long since all communication had ceased between 
us and the European stock and we are so apt to distrust any 
remote tradition when the influence of self-love is likely to give 
a coloring that I have very little confidence in what I have heard 
of our origin and was really very much gratified to ascertain 
satisfactorily that we really come from a good family * * * 
You will greatly add to the obligation under which you have 
already laid me by the trouble you have taken if you will tell me 
what you know of the coat of arms of the family. If you would 
send me an impression or sketch on paper it would be preferable. 
The arms which are assigned to the name are marked Scotch, 
and I am informed that the French and Scotch families are 

*Peter Trezevant, Esq., 31 Chester Terrace, Regent Park, London. 

James Louis Petigru 1 79 

branches of the same stock; it does not follow that they are 
entitled to the same arms. My grandfather, who died before 
my time, was too much occupied by more pressing cares to think 
of his escutcheon, if he was entitled to any such distinction, or 
leave any information on this subject to his family. * * * 

I may as well mention that I am by profession a lawyer; that 
my success has been at least equal to my desert; that I am up- 
wards of 40; a married man with three children. * * * And 
to assure you of this feeling with which though I can not make 
so free as to say "dear cousin," 

^ I am your humble servant and relative, 

In the postscript of a letter written in 1837, he writes: 

Cousin Margaret has sent me the coat of arms: Gules, three 
stars, and a crescent, argent. I will have it engraved when I 
go north, and you will see it. 


Charleston, 12th December, 1835. 
My dear North: 

* * * The Bill to abolish the Court of Appeals will probably 
almost certainly pass the Legislature, but, strange as it may seem, 
the old Judges will probably be reelected. The reason is, first, 
that it is a very weak Legislature governed by party, and the 
party under the leading of men who are governed by a small vanity 
to do as much mischief as they can, even when they are to get 
nothing by it. And, secondly, that McCord, Caldwell and Dun- 
kin could not get a vote of the party to elect them, as they can 
get one to turn out the present incumbents; and lastly, because 
the influence of the party is so much diminished, that it can not 
prevent men from being kind, though it is sufficient to prevent 
them from being just. There was no speaking except on one 
side, till they came to the second section, which means, though 
obscurely worded, that Johnston, O'Neale and Harper are 
deprived of their commissions; and for a good while there was 
nothing about that except a few scattering shots, except the 
onesided speeches from the friends of the bill. But Albert 
Smith* at last came out like a house on fire, so unexpected and so 
brilliant that it was a perfect surprise. It did no good, however, 
directly, because when the vote was taken on Thursday 10th, 
the amendment offered for the purpose of making the Act con- 
stitutional, was rejected by a very great majority. The speech 
has had influence however and will establish Mr. Smith's repu- 
tation as the first man in the present House. Yet he was in 

*Afterwards Albert Rhett. 

180 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

favor of the Bill, and only opposed the leaving out of the judges 
as unconstitutional. His speech has another effect: those who 
will vote in favor of the Bill, will afterwards vote in favor of the 
judges; many of them, because they have during this discussion, 
said so to avoid the argument from the Constitution. Adieu. 

Yours truly, 

P. S. — The law against free negroes was rejected in the Senate 
as soon as it was touched. There is likely to be very little done 
but the unconstitutional business of turning out the Judges, and 
the foolish one of changing a good judiciary for a worse one. 


24 December, 1835. 
My dear Jane: 

All the compliments of the season to you and all the George- 
town coterie. I hope that you are all well, and that you are not, 
any of you, too wise to be merry according to the simple fashion 
of the old times. I came here last Saturday — found everything 
well — have made 12,000 bushels from 200 acres, which is not 
contemptible, and if I lived as a planter, on the plantation, and 
of the plantation, would be a decent income for the like of us. 
But what with buying corn, clothing against cholera as well as 
against cold — and paying bills for all that is not done by the 
negroes' own hands, little is left of 8 or 9,000 dollars to lay up or 
to spend. The only thing to flatter my vanity as a proprietor 
is the evident and striking improvement in the moral and physi- 
cal condition of the negroes since they have been under my 
administration. When I took them, they were naked and desti- 
tute; now there is hardly one that has not a pig at least, and with 
few exceptions, they can kill their own poultry whenever they 
please. * * * 

Petigru's Seal 

The crest, a little crane, pflit grue. believed to have been a joke < 
Captain Thomas Petigni, L . S. N. 

(Facing 180) 

'James Louis Petigru 181 



Advice to Legare; Death of his Brother-in-law; Mar- 
riages OF HIS Sisters; Cholera; Fire in City; Buying 


Charleston, February 17, 1836. 
My Dear Legare: 

This is Ash Wednesday, the day of all days in the year that 
our citizens take for a gala and merry-making. This is the day 
when the races commence and Charleston is filled with old and 
young intent on amusement, business and the turf. But for me 
it is no day of rejoicing or festivity. My poor friend North died 
last Saturday morning, leaving three small children, besides his 
widow, whose destiny depends now a great deal on me. He 
went off very rapidly in a dropsy. 

Do you really think you will return in the summer? Great 
things are on foot here. Pinckney bolted a week ago, and intro- 
duced resolutions counter to the proceedings of Hammond, in 
the House, and Calhoun, in the Senate. They are vexed, but 
don't denounce him. He was certainly right, and it astonished 
me that they could persist in moving to reject the petitions of 
the Abolitionists, which was putting the debate on the footing 
most advantageous to the Abolitionists. I think that Pinckney 
is not going to sit much longer on the cold rock of opposition. 
Another change is likely to occur: Barnwell Smith has made a 
fortune by an advantageous purchase from Col. Stapleton, and 
begins to be anxious to play a part at Washington, or, as he says; 
to retain his plantation. It is very likely that both places will 
be vacant, Pinckney's and Smith's, and I think you might have 
either. After all, it is questionable whether you could summon 
resolution to quit Charleston for aye and transfer your domicile 
to New York, though it is there you ought to be. Should you 
come back to us it would be a satisfaction to find that there was 
a place for you; not to have to wait for the second table or look 

The turn which things have taken is pacific. The English 
mediator has done the business, I suppose. I was very much 
afraid of a French war and surprised to see how popular it was. 
The only war on hand is with the poor Seminoles. They have 
killed some and wounded a great many by burning houses, mills, 
etc., and carrying off the negroes. Gen. Scott is there, and he 

182 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

has called for such large levies of men that it is evident he will 
pass over them without any fighting. Three volunteer com- 
panies, besides drafted men, have gone from Charleston. 

Since you wrote your letter of the 10th December, which is 
the last I have received, no doubt two of mine have come to 
hand. The contents of those letters, however, are now State 
news. They passed the bill to break down the Court of Appeals; 
on the 1st January the eleven Judges were all here. Judges 
De Saussure, president of the chamber — Harper held the Court 
of Chancery — leaving nine for the common bench. They sat 
only three weeks — had, fortunately, a light docket and got 
through the law cases without touching the equity. They had 
then to disperse for the circuits. The scheme works as badly as 
the clumsy project might be supposed. I don't think it will 
stand as long as the last did. In fact I believe Judge Bay, who 
has seen every successive Administration from 1783, will live 
long enough to see another. 

Adieu, my dear l.egare. 


John G. North, his brother-in-law, died at Georgetown on the 
13th of February, 1836. The duty of winding up the estate and 
providing another home for the widow and infant children 
devolved upon Mr. Petigru. They returned to the family nest 
at Badwell, where Mr. Petigru stocked the farm, and here Mrs. 
North pursued farming and remained all her life. Among the 
various changes in Mr. Petigru's domestic relations we record 
the following marriages: 

On the 13th of October, 1829, Louise Petigru, his third sister, 
was married at Badwell, to Philip Johnston Porcher. For a few 
years they lived at his plantation, "Keithfield, " on the Cooper 
River, and then removed to Charleston, where they lived ever 

On 21st April, 1832, Adele Petigru, his fourth sister, was 
married from his house to R. F. W. Allston. He graduated at 
West Point in 1821, and was one of the most advanced cultiva- 
tors of rice in the Georgetown section. He was Governor of 
South Carolina in 1856-58. He died on the 7th April, 1864; 
age 63. 

In April, 1836, Harriette Petigru, his sixth sister, married 
Henry D. Lesesne, and for the first year lived at his house. 

His brother Tom had married Miss La Bruce, a lady of con- 
siderable wealth. 

James Louis Petigru 183 


Walterborough, April 4, 1836. 
* * * I came here last night and took possession of Sally 
Ford's house. The tavern was never comfortable, and as I am 
not in general practice here I was glad to be as retired as possible. 
Memminger is with me and we are keeping house, and would 
be comfortable if there were fewer rats; but true to the economy 

of the family Sally has her at her bed room, and before the 

vermin retire, that is from 11 to 2 or 3 in the morning, it is like 
a witches' Sabbath or horrid festival. 

In June he writes: "I shall have to attend the Court of 
Appeals at Columbia, and hope to extend my visit as far as Bad- 
well. This will be in July or August. Harriette is still with us 
and we all get on very quietly with her and Henry. 

"I hope father is pleased to have you and the children about 
him. But I daresay that when they are importunate he some- 
times regrets the solitude he enjoyed before you came. Pray 
tell him that if he suffers the 4th October to pass before he 
applies for his forty dollars they will require an additional affi- 
davit that he is the same individual." This referred to his 
father's pension as a Revolutionary soldier. 


Charleston, 23 August, 1836. 
My dear Legare: 

I rejoice that you are come and sincerely hope that you will 
be a member of Congress in six weeks. But it is very probable 
that we shall require you here at home to take a pull at the traces. 
Pinckney has crept about our Union men and gained them over 
to his purposes in some occasions. Holmes has no strength. 
You need not be restrained by friendship for him — no one thinks 
that he has any chance. I don't believe he thinks so himself. 

Your letter by Boyer is dated the 14th, yet I got it only yes- 
terday, and must answer very succinctly for I am just returned 
from an expedition partly of business and the boat is within 10 
minutes of a start. Yours ever, 


Charleston, 26 August, 1836. 
My dear Legare: 

The business is fixed so far as we can fix it, and In the Patriot 
of this afternoon you will see your annunciation for Congress 
and the same in the two morning papers to-morrow. There 

184 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

has been great hesitation among a segment of our party and 
after long consultation Bennett has adhered to you and signed 
the nomination. His reluctance to play a bold game is habitual, 
and he thinks you have no chance, but I know better. I offered 
the nomination to Bennett himself, and coaxed him all sorts of 
ways, not him only but a great many others. All which I'll tell 
you when I have more time. We have lost McDonald and all 
his influence. Steedman probably will vote for you and we 
shall be able to carry the bulk of the party. Our friend Holmes 
is the best affected to you in the world and says if he could be 
sure of you he would be willing to stand out of the way. The 
contest gives us every advantage, for the Nullifiers by quarreling 
are doing our work for us and in confidence, the Holmes party 
would greatly prefer you to Pinckney, so much so that I should 
not be surprised if late in the canvass H. should be withdrawn; 
and the Nullifiers come to our camp as auxiliaries in mass. 

Our friends think you ought to come home. I beg you will 
do so as soon as you can. Write to Bennett also and thank him 
and let him know that you are aware how much you owe him. 

I have done by you, my dear fellow, what I know you would 
do for me — used my best judgment and decided as I think it is 
for your interests that I should. More, it is decidedly better 
for you to be beat than not to come before the people. It would 
do you no harm to be beat — but to be shelved — aye think of that 
— to lie in cold obstruction, etc, etc. 

Adieu, thine, 


Charleston, September 6, 1836. 
My dear Legare: 

I hope you don't mean to stay long in Boston nor in New 
York either, but come home as soon as you can. I don't think 
that you are under any obligation to Mr. Forsyth to wait for 
his return to Washington before you visit it to pass your accounts 
considering what weighty reasons you have at home to attend 
you. You are right in saying that it is going to be a tough race 
between you and Pinckney, and doubly right in your conclusion 
that it would be just as bad, nay worse to turn back than to go 
through. If it turns out badly throw all the blame on me; I 
admit that I am responsible for the advice and shall maintain 
to the last that the advice is good. I am beginning to feel sav- 
age towards Pinckney for supplanting me with our people, and 
riot only me but all the leaders of the party who stood up for the 
Constitution and Union when he was foremost in the cry of 
Nullification. The Courier is, in fact, all his own. Yeadon does 
not help us, and King, the other editor, is a whiffling tool that 
has no honor in him and is, in fact, so low in his estimates of 

Caroline Peiigru at Eighteen 



(Facing 184) 

James Louis Petigru 185 

right and wrong as to think it no shame to give as a reason for 
supporting Pinckney that it will mortify J. C. Calhoun. They 
have drawn off a good deal of our Democracy in this way. The 
Irish and the mechanics, the Methodists, Pinckney has them 
from both sides. His lieutenants are Laval and Keith, Nulli- 
fiers, and McDonald, formerly a Union man. The recent ticket 
— that is the members elected — show the division: L. P. Holmes, 
Hamilton, Peronneau, Mordecai, Simons, Codgell, Henry In- 
gram, Ripley, Connor. Doubtful: Seymour, Ker, Howland. 

To the doubtful perhaps Ripley ought to be added. The 
Nullifiers are betting on your election and everything shows that 
the contest will be narrowed down to you and Pinckney, and 
that the friends of H. will ultimately rally on you if they see no 
chance of carrying the election, and at all events we shall get as 
many Nullification votes as Pinckney will take away. But I 
think you should come as soon as you get this letter, Washington 
or not. Zounds, it is an important thing when a gentleman has 
been away four years and his friends are in strife at home to come 
up to the scratch; and if you are elected they will be very glad 
to see you at Washington at your own time. 

Don't mind what you hear of Preston. Wait till you see him 
for I think he is friendly to you, though with his usual arrogance 
may undertake to pronounce on what can and what can not be. 
It is mere waste of time to talk of me, if serious, and if in jest 
it is not at this time to enjoy such. I do not believe I would 
make half so good a figure in the House of Representatives as in 
the Court House at Georgetown, and I could no more think of 
going with my circumstances and ties than I would hesitate in 
yours. Come home and let us do the thing neatly and well. 
Remember, however, no whiskers, no rings, no chain, no foppery, 
nothing but civility and common sense till the election is over. 



Charleston, 27 October, 1836. 
My dear Jane: 

It is a long time since I wrote to you last and by my promise 
I ought to have seen you instead of writing. However, you 
know the reason, my anxiety about Mr. Legare's election was 
great, but it was a stronger feeling than that; a consciousness 
that I had made myself in a great degree responsible for the 
event by the part I had taken, which would not permit of my 
leaving this place in September without an act of desertion. You 
know, I suppose, how the election went and that Mr. Legare 
succeeded by the aid of the country votes, and that on our 
united ticket none but Mr. Frost and myself were elected. The 
other 14 were the nominees of Pinckney's party. I will be 

186 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

obliged to attend the legislature, which is to meet on the 28th 
of next month. You may expect to see me about the 20th. I 
shall go up to see you a week before the legislature meets. Shall 
I bring Jim with me? He is perfectly sound and well; has never 
had a scratch during all the cholera, and looks almost as if he 
had been on Badwell instead of this nursery of plagues, for 
such it has been all summer. The doctors are sought after 
more than other description of men. Those that never had a 
patient before have the agreeable vexation of interruption and 
importunities at all hours of the night and day. We have done 
talking of alarm and bear the presence of the pestilence with the 
equanimity of those strict predestinarians the Turks, who treat 
all quarantine and sanitary regulations with contempt. Poor 
Cross [Col. Cross] is an example of the mysterious power of the 
disease. He died to-day at 12 o'clock hardly aware that he was 
in any distress. Yesterday morning I saw him at the fire, 
which burnt down the house at the corner of Broad and King 
Streets. He was confined to his bed last evening, and thought 
himself better this morning, and I believe neither he nor his 
family were aware that he was worse till he breathed his last. 

I am going in the morning to Savannah and will return next 
week. Then to Georgetown and afterwards to Badwell. * * * 
The fire I spoke of was very near making a sweep of Mr. Pringle's 
house and all those near there in Orange Street. The roof of 
the tenement house where Mr. Keating Simons formerly lived, 
was on fire and that of several others. But the firemen exerted 
themselves well and happily succeeded in staying it, with com- 
paratively little loss. Only the mean wooden houses opposite 
to where we used to live on Broad Street, and the two brick 
houses at the corner; you may remember where Devillers used 
to live. If the city should increase as it is supposed it will, 
such fires will be a benefit to it. And we are all anticipating a 
great deal from the Ohio railroad. I subscribed 5 shares for 
you and 5 shares for May, and Tom subscribed one for each of 
the children, and I hope they will one day be worth more than 
they are now. * * * 

Your affectionate Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, 11 November, 1836. 
My dear Jane: 

I am greatly concerned to hear that father's health is so poorly. 
I will leave Charleston on the 17th, that is next Thursday and 
will I hope be with you at Badwell on Saturday the 19th, stay 
with you till Friday following and then leave you for Columbia. 
I have got the claret, but though it was sent to the railroad, they 
sent it back — had too much freight. I have tried the steam- 

James Louis Petigru 187 

boat, and if it don't go before I am off, it will be probably taken 
as part of my baggage. * * * Yio tell father that I am 
making haste to see him, but that I hope and believe that I will 
find him a great deal better than your letter expresses it. * * * 
My love to Mary and the children, truly and affectionately, 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Columbia, 9 December, 1836. 
My dear Jane: 

The new Treasurer, Mr. Black, is so good as to take charge of 
this letter with the enclosed bills, in which you will find 725 
dollars for Mr. Carr. And before you pay it you will see that 
his wife has released her dower before Mr. Collier, as was agreed 
on. The fees of Mr. Collier are to be paid by you, not exceeding 
2 dollars. Mr. Noble and I agreed to-day for the slip of land on 
this side, for which I have paid him his own price supposing it to 
be 12 acres, but it is to be measured, and if there is more than 
12 acres, I am to pay more. In the meantime the land is ours 
to the middle of the river. 

Mr. Black can not take the garden seeds. I will send them 
by Mr. Wardlaw except a few that I will get Mr. Black to take 
as he has room in his trunk. 

I have seen a good deal of Mr. Calhoun and had long talks 
with him, but very little of the Governor.* His health appears 
to me to be very poor and his spirits low. I dined with him 
yesterday for the first time. The crowd was such, that it was 
impossible to use one's arms, except from the elbow down, and 
the knives so dull, that one might almost as well have partaken 
with Governor Sancho of his uncomfortable meal, when he had 
all the dainties of Barrataria before him and was not allowed to 
touch them. I have been obliged to decline several invitations 
for want of time. I understand that there is a great deal of 
gaiety in Columbia and plenty of parties given in compliment 
to the young married pair, Mr. Thomas Starke and Miss Raoul. 

Adieu my dear Jane. 

Your Brother. 

P. S. — Tell Carr that I could not get United States notes at all, 
and I was told that the Bank of the State are next in favor to 
them in Alabama and pass currently there; that all the emigrants 
take them. 


188 Life^ Letters and Speeches 



The Britt Pension and Coolness with Poinsett; Death 
OF His Father; Choctaw Country, Mississippi 

Mr. Petigru's father died January 23, 1837, within a few weeks 
of attaining his 80th year. "On the last of the month," Peti- 
gru writes, "I have received your account of our poor father's 
last moments. I was by accident at the postoffice and took out 
your letter, with some others, and was passing along when I 
opened it the first and read your affecting account of the termin- 
ation of his long pilgrimage. * * * It was not without tears 
that I went through your narrative of the last scene of this pro- 
tracted history. If Mr. Waddell had felt his subject strongly 
he might have been very impressive in delineating the character 
and vicissitudes of one that had been among the earliest inhabi- 
tants of a rude country and seemed almost contemporary with 
the origin of the society in which he lived." 


Charleston, 14 April, 1837. 
My dear Jane: 

I do not beheve that I have written to you since the 16th 
March which is the date of your last letter, at least of one that 
I have not answered, and which you might therefore with reason 
insist should be your last. I have been gratified to hear that the 
trees arrived safe and hope that they will grow, and that; the 
seeds which we sent you will grow, and that Hanway will take 
care that the grass does grow too fast. I almost think that I 
can taste the nice well water which, thanks to Dickert's perse- 
verance, is now at your command. If it does not turn out to be 
a good well, it will be a great improvement upon the old times; 
for though I do not know how the spring answered in the winter, 
I am sure that it was enough to poison anybody in the summer 
when you say it was at its best. * * * 

Judge O'Neale wrote to me that he had fixed Mr. Britt's 
papers and sent them to Mr. Poinsett, but I have not heard 
anything of them since; it is to be hoped that I will, or I shall 

James Louis Petigru 189 

really think that when Rochefoucauld says that in the misfor- 
tunes of our best friends there is something that does not dis- 
please us, he has at least come so near the truth as only to 
mistake the disappointment felt in the good fortune of friends, 
for a sweet pleasure in their adversities. If the mishaps of those 
that we call friends could give pleasure, there is even too much 
of it at present. The failures in this place are very numerous, 
and one man (Mr. Stoney*) whose case excites universal sympa- 
thy. I hope and believe, however, that he is ilot ruined, but it 
is a killing mortification for a merchant like him to confess that 
he can not pay. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, 10th July, 1837. 

* * * Well, I suppose you know that I am going on Friday a long 
voyage all the way to Cincinnati. It is against the grain to go 
at all, and doubly so to take this long circuit to get to New York, 
but there is no help for it and go I must. I will write you the 
next letter from the new capital of the West — a country that 
when I was a boy I used to hear of like the Ultima-Thule or the 
Miamies where old Steedman went soldiering under Gen. Wayne. 

It has been awfully warm all this last week and dry as dust: the 
4th July was a severe day to me. I had a dispute to settle with 
Dan; it was a very severe one — he had offended Mr. Cotes by 
an act of mutiny — cut up his rattan and given out that he would 
resist the rod. It was all day in discussion. I felt sick and 
could not believe I was not so till the dispute was made up and 
Mr. Cotes gave him his hand. I went then to the Washington 
Society. Mr. Poinsett was there. I would not sit beside him. 
It was resentment of his turning his back upon his friends at the 
time of his promotion, and I confess Mr. Britt's business stuck 
in my throat. I thought he should have seen to the behaviour 
of his subordinates better, as he knew from Judge O'Neale's 
letter I took an interest in the application. Mr. P. sent a 
friend to me, but I told him plainly I considered our correspon- 
dence ended. Though I ate nothing nor drank, the noise, the 
heat and excitement would not let me sleep. Last Saturday I 
took a little holiday for the first time; I went to the Island and 
dined with Col. I'on. In the evening there was a grand meeting 
at the City Hall, called by Mr. Fisk, who unites or is desirous of 
uniting the character of demagogue to that of Universalist. 
Before I knew what I was about I was speaking or screaming 
with passion. Poor Fisk was routed on every side. I suppose 

*Mr. John Stoney was an active Union man during nullification; he was the 
grandfather of Mr. Samuel G. Stoney, of Charleston. 

190 J^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

his next essay will be as abolitionist, but of course he must go 
elsewhere to enact that part. 

You may tell Mr. Britt I have put his business into the hands 
of Mr. Legate and have no doubt he will get his pension in Sep- 

* * * It is a lamentable thing for me, this expedition. 
Money scarce and T in debt. I wrote to Jack McLean and told 
him to show the letter to brother Jack, to whom it was useless 
to write, that if he came here, he needs expect nothing from me. 
If he would stay where he is, I would help him next winter to the 
extent of five hundred dollars. It is lamentable that he is so 
lost to any sense of shame, as to be willing to burthen his family, 
without giving them the consolation of doing any service to him, 
by the drains he is about to make and will continue to make as 
long as he lives upon their feelings. Adieu my dear Jane. My 
love to Mary and the children and cousin Eliza. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Washington, 17 September, 1837. 
T received a letter from you and my dear Jane, which I can 
not now refer to as I had the misfortune to lose it out of my 
pocket with my pocketbook two evenings ago. It is unex- 
pected to you I suppose to get a letter from me at this place, but 
you must know that I am here on my way to the Choctaw coun- 
try, where I am obliged to go on business. It was necessary for 
me to come through this place for I had enquiries to make at the 
offices here, respecting the title of lands in that country, and 
those examinations have detained me longer than I expected. 
1 did not intend to stay more than two days and my stay will be 
a week on the I9th when I am to set off. In the meantime one 
good consequence of my detention here is that I have secured 
our worthy neighbor Mr. Britt, his pension. You have no idea 
how hard it is to get anything through one of those offices. I 
went in to the Commissioner of Pensions with Mr. Legare, for 
all respect here is paid to official rank, and the word of a member 
of Congress goes far to ensure a polite reception. The Commis- 
sioner heard our story and promised an answer on Saturday, 
saying he would send the answer to Mr. Legare. On Saturday 
I took care to call, but went alone. Mr. Commissioner seemed 
to know nothing about it, but sent for the papers and we went 
over them, and in half an hour he told me he was satisfied and 
would pass the claim. Judge of my astonishment when I found 
before I called, he had actually written to Mr. Legare rejecting 
the claim. But I will take care to get the thing fixed before I 
leave the ground and will actually enclose the paper to Mr. Britt 
before I go away. To do this I will have to stay one day longer 

James Louis Petigru 191 

and by the same course I shall hear Mr. Calhoun in the Senate. 
That gentleman has taken a most extraordinary turn and is 
going to make a speech tomorrow, as it is given out, in favor of 
the message. All the members from our State will be against 
him except two: Mr. Pickens and Barnwell Smith now called 
Mr. Rhett. Nothing can be more monstrous than to support 
a scheme for doing away with bank paper and of course with 
credit, and ruining all who are in debt. It is awful — it is so sud- 
den — and of Mr. Calhoun so unexpected. However, he is to be 
heard tomorrow and we shall be better able to judge then what 
his scheme is, as well as how he defends himself, but at present 
it appears that there will be a fatal breach between him and his 
friends in Carolina. 

I left Jane and Caroline at Newport on the 8th instant. They 
will stay there till October and then come to New York and 
arrive in Charleston about the 1st November. I will probably 
be there about the same time or a little after. From what I 
have heard I am afraid that Tom has lost his crop or great part 
of it. That will be worse than the loss of my pocketbook, 
although the thief took off all the money I had. The shame was 
as bad as the sense of destitution, and my friends Elmore and 
Richardson lent me $300 each, which set me up again, but is in 
these times a heavy loss and at all times a painful one. I was 
kindly received by all our countrymen here as well as many 
strangers, and by none with more goodness than Mrs. Poinsett,* 
whose attentions were the more agreeable as she asked with 
interest after you. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to thomas petigru 

Washington, 18th September, 1837. 
My dear Tom: 

* * * I have just heard Mr. Calhoun on the Divorce of Bank 
and State, but it is in reality a divorce of Calhoun from his little 
party and the first step to a union between him and the Admin- 
istration. He made a speech unequal to his reputation; in fact 
I think Barnwell Smith [Rhett] will make a better one on the same 
side. I have now heard Webster and Calhoun ; I shall not hear Clay, 
but I am going to dine with him, and if he were not so eminent a 
man, that might be considered a great distinction. J have to 
write several letters besides assisting at this dinner, and then I 
must leave the city and drudge through a long journey. As I 
have written all the news to Jane already and another letter to 
Lesesne, I must e'en make short work with you and with love 
to Anne and the children, bid you dear Tom, adieu. 

Your Brother. 

"Mrs. Poinsett was a Miss Izard wlio first married John Julius Pringle. 

192 -^(A", Letters and Speeches 

After nullification, and the removal of the funds from the 
United States banks by Jackson, numerous banks were estab- 
lished; credit was given everywhere and a rage for speculation 
in western land sprang up throughout the country. General 
James Hamilton, Jr., who was a born speculator, could not miss 
this opportunity of making a fortune. Mr. Petigru was already 
interested with him in a rice plantation on the Ogeechee River in 
Georgia. Listening to his sanguine representations he joined 
him, with some others, in a large speculation in Mississippi 
which was known as the "Ossawichee Co." It was this busi- 
ness that brought about Petigru's financial failure. As they 
were both occupied with the politics of South Carolina in 1834, 
this enterprise was probably entered into after that date, and 
it was on account of this business that he visited the Choctaw 


* * * I believe I did notwrite you sincelwas in Washington. 
My journey thence was less unlucky, for I lost no more money 
nor broke any bones, which considering what roads from Louisville 
to Columbus, that is good fortune. At Nashville I was most 
hospitably entertained three days by Major Rutledge and his 
excellent lady. It was the strongest evidence I ever had of the 
feeling that binds Carolinians to their countrymen. They cer- 
tainly did receive me as if I was in some sort akin to them. I 
traveled in Mississippi to the westward of the Tombigbee up- 
wards of one hundred miles on horseback. At first it was dread- 
fully fatiguing, but on the return I did not mind it. I saw much 
of the beautiful Choctaw country, which, after all, is not much 
better than our own. An old man from South Carolina ex- 
plained the difference admirably well: "This country," said he, 
"is better than South Carolina now, but South Carolina was a 
great deal better when it was new." * * * My concerns 
in Western speculations will, I hope, be in the end a benefit, but 
at present it is a great hindrance and clog upon me. The 
occurrence of anyone serious public embarrassment would infal- 
libly ruin me. You may judge then whether I am favorable to 
any project like the sub-treasury, under which there is a great 
risk of the total prostration of credit. Adieu. 

Your Brother. 

I ought to set out day after to-morrow for the Legislature, 
but will not be able. 

James Louis Petigru 193 


Washington, December 17, 1837. 

Your short letter, dear Hugh, I will answer by a shorter. 
The unanimity of the Legislature and of the people is unnatural. 
It is a forced and unsettled state of things. Mr. Calhoun's 
triumph is complete and even too great, for he has crushed his 
lieutenants. You will see Hamilton's resolutions on which he 
was left the honor of standing alone. I told him that I thought 
he was right. His local or State influence was gone and he must 
look to his reputation abroad. It is only by the reflux that the 
channels of his credit can be filled again — and it is his character 
abroad that must give him consideration at home. 

The House has no leaders but the Rhetts and they do not 
lead except when they have the popular set strongly with them. 
Texas is to be added to the subtreasury to-morrow. The major- 
ity will be nearly the same. McDuflie's name from being a 
word of power is significant now of nothing but failure. I believe 
the spirit of disunion is very general in the State, and if it suited 
Calhoun to take that ground there would hardly be a rally. 
Texas is disunion — they mean it so. Tired of New England, 
they desire divorce and a second marriage. My consolation is 
that South Carolina has not the decision of anything in her hands 
except her own character and the selection of who among her 
sons shall be accounted the worthiest, at least in the State^ House. 

Adieu. We go home on Thursday. 



Columbia, 20th December, 1837. 
I am sorry my dear Jane that I can't go to Badwell. * * * 
I have been here almost three weeks and tired I am of it. My 
position is that of a person in a dead minority. Everything has 
gone for the new scheme that Mr. Calhoun patronizes. I say 
cvery-thing not Qvery-body, for Preston, Hamilton, Hayne, 
Legare and I, are somebody, I think, not to mention other names 
as well entitled to be considered, and they say that McDuffie is 
very sullen though he concurs with his old leader. I made a 
speech and have even printed it. I will send you a copy. 
* * * I have got a few cuttings of the Hervemont grape and 
some others, with a few seeds he also takes charge of. I have 
received a letter from brother Jack — he has bought the farm 
and I am to pay 540 dollars in January. * * * Poor Chan- 
cellor DeSaussure is quite broken in strength; he had no hope of 
being able again toresume thedischargeof hisduties and resigned. 
One of the handsomest things the Legislature did for a long time 
was to give him a year's salary in advance, so he has ?3,500 to 

194 Life, Letters and Speeches 

pay the debts which he contracted in equipping poor Sarah and 
her infatuated husband* for their wild goose chase to China 
after the conversion of the heathen. You remember Fanny 
Cooper, that was, married to Joe Lesesne. They are in Mobile, 
and anxious to come back. I voted for Joe to fill poor Nott's 
place, but he had no chance. Strange to say, Joe has become, 
if not devout, at least so sober in his way of thinking, as to be 
strongly suspected of Christianity. 

This letter is written in the Hall of the Representatives. 
The clerk is reading a long rigmarole of names and the members 
are making as much noise as the idle boys in a country school 
when the Master is out. Do not be surprised therefore at my 
mistakes, but whether quiet or hurried, believe me I am always 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Columbia, December 20, 1837. 

I have paid Noble for his land and send the deed by Mrs. 
Wardlaw to be recorded and handed to you, also some cuttings 
and seeds. Our brother Tom's crop this year is very sorry, 
indeed. It would have been so anyway, and the storm injured 
it very much. On the contrary mine is rather the best I have 
ever made yet, tho' it is no great thing. * * * A little 
plantation is a sorry undertaking in the low-country. 

I have just had Henry Lesesne appointed justice of the peace. 
This is the second favor I have asked and received from this 
House. They have been so obliging as to pass an Act to allow 
Reid, tho' an alien, to be admitted to the Bar. This was very 
considerate of them, as I have supported during the whole 
session very unpopular opinions, and been on the greatest 
questions in a very small minority. I hope that Reid will suc- 
ceed at the Bar, but while he gets $1,000 a year I think he had 
better stay with me. I was very sorry to vote against the 
Speakerf for chancellor, but I hope he was satisfied from no 
want of respect or esteem. In fact, I wished him to give way 
to Dunkin, but he would not, and he was the only person I 
tried to convert to that side. 

Our low-country people are desirous of having a Judge below 
and there were great reasons for it on the score of convenience. 
I suppose there never was a man more relieved and gratified 
than the new chancellor by his election. 

*Boone, afterwards Bishop of China. He proved a very capable missionary. 

James Louis Petigru 195 



Mrs. North to Teach School; Fire in Charleston; Gover- 
nor Gilmer of Georgia; Legare 

Mrs. Jane Petigru North was a woman of brilliant intellect, 
strong in character, and of commanding presence. She posses- 
sed many of the characteristics of her brother, but the basis of 
her character was the absolute unselfishness and constant desire 
to make other people happy. Well knowing the ease with which 
burthens could be packed upon her brother, she was one of the 
very few who ever tried to lighten his load. 

With this end in view and encouraged by sincere friends in 
Abbeville she desired to take charge of the district school. On 
this question of schools and school teachers Mr. Petigru writes 
her the following characteristic and instructive letter: 


Charleston, January 29, 1838. 
My dear Sister: 

Bull came here on Saturday and delivered to me your letter 
of the 18th, which I have read several times, and given to Caro- 
line to read, and she has read it. And after all we still think the 
contents of a very stirring and important nature. * * * 
To be the governess of a respectable female school, the Madame 
Campon of a village seminary, although not the very highest 
prize in the lottery of life, nor even the most brilliant part which 
a woman may play under the democracy, (when a very invidious 
distinction is made by excluding them from the benefits of the 
general suffrage,) is nevertheless after all depreciating consider- 
ations of that kind, still an honorable independency. 

It stirs my heart toward yourfriend, Mrs. Wardlaw, and her 
excellent husband to hear and read how warmly she embraces 
the plan. My opinion is entirely in favor of it; my conscience 
is satisfied, too, on the score of your qualifications and abilities. 
The great point is to ascertain whether the patrons of the 
school will heartily concur in it as an arrangement as advan- 
tageous to them as to you. For I would not, by any means, 
have you accept the place or rather obtain it on the score of 

196 l^ije^ Letters and Speeches 

favor or as an alms. If they are sensible to the advantage of 
having at the head of the school a lady who has a just sense of 
her dignity and who, though not brought up to teaching has 
character and capacity to govern, they will prefer you to any 
mere professional candidate. And I would answer for you as 
soon as I would for myself that the scholars that are committed 
to you will never suffer for the want of attention or from the 
influence of a mercenary spirit that looks to the teacher's gains 
as the chief object of teaching. I know from experience how 
vexatious a thing it is, but you are older than I was when I had 
to struggle with the indolence -^nd stupidity of the young fry 
that were gathered about my schoolhouse, and will succeed a 
great deal better. Nor is there any doubt that a school at the 
village would be on the whole a more pleasant and satisfactory 
life than the out-of-the-way farm at Badwell. But a great deal 
depends on the commencement and more still will depend of the 
progress of the school. If you should get few scholars, or not 
give satisfaction you would find the exchange uncomfortable. 
But if you have a good school and escape contention or discon- 
tent among the parents, I really think, my dear sister, that you 
would be far happier and far more usefully employed than in 
your present situation or any other within our reach. 

These are my views and if^ the treaty should be entered into I 
will feel for your friend, Mrs. Wardlaw, a livelier sentiment of 
gratitude than any lady has awakened in my bosom for a long 
time. Tom was here last week, but is now in Georgetown. 

P. S. — If you take the school I must send you globes and 
maps, and a teacher of music and all such things. 

At the meeting of the board of trustees one of the members 
made the remark that "Mrs. North would teach the children 
fine manners and that was not what the people wanted." 
Whereupon Judge Wardlaw instantly withdrew her name. 


Charleston, 30th April, 1838. 
My dear Jane: 

The scene before us at this time beats everything in the way 
of moralizing, that the pulpit or the tragic stage can do. 
Charleston may be said to be no more. The desolation that 
reigns in the busiest, liveliest streets, the rude columns that once 
were chimneys, standing as thick as trees in the forest, and the 
piles of rubbish lying everywhere over the ground in most 
unsightly disorder, are miserable memorials of our fallen state. 
You will see in the papers which I send you, a detailed account 
of the losses. Some particulars I may add that would interest 

James Louis Petigru 197 

you. The last house burnt in Meeting Street was my friend 
Magrath's. Dr. Porcher's house is standing like a sinner saved 
— marks of fire on every board to the north — the kitchen blown 
up. The fire was finally stayed at 12 M. in Liberty Street, and a 
blessing that it was, for despair began to paralyze the exertions 
of men as much as fatigue. I was there of course, for its pro- 
gress would then have been to Miss Webb's, and worked away 
till I was ready to break into a flame myself. In the night from 
3 o'clock till daylight I was at Gen. Hamilton's. He and Mrs. 
Hamilton and all the family indeed but Miss Cruger and James, 
away. We sat on the top of the house a long time, looking on 
the ocean of fire that spread before us, and a more terrific scene 
the imagination of bard or painter never suggested for the idea 
of the infernal regions. The wind, which had been southwest 
changed to west, and that change it was which saved the whole 
of what is left of the north and east of King Street. The western 
winds carried the flames down to the water, and by great efibrts 
they kept the fire from Laurens Street. Immense exertions 
were made by individuals, but there was a want of combination, 
a feebleness of action on the part of the public which was piti- 
able. I never saw Pinckney* till the next morning and when we 
were struggling against the flames in Liberty street in a narrow gap 
where seemed the last chance and where we did in fact succeed 
finally in stopping it; he was looking on saying that it was use- 
less. There is no knowing what will be done — wise and vigor- 
ous counsels are necessary to keep this place from losing the 
very name of town, and sinking into a village. We all think 
it was a judgment but disagree for what it was sent. I think 
it was the boastful, threatening, and insolent convention at 
Augusta, where we were making such ridiculous promises of 
what we were going to do. 

Daniel goes on Thursday morning to Baltimore consigned to 
Mr. Legare who is to take him to St. Mary's College, Maryland, 
a Catholic institution; but as Legare says, for the improvement 
of his morals I am willing to run some risk of his faith. He has 
had some lessons since he left Mr. Cotes in February that will do 
him good. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to hugh s. legare 

Columbia, 1 June, 1838. 
My dear Legare: 

I wrote you yesterday by Express mail — and now only add 
unimportant details for the events that have since transpired. 
But I desire that you should know that these proceedings tho 

*The mayor. 

198 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

most offensive in form to Preston are in reality most insulting 
to you and Campbell. For they have been adopted under an 
impression derived from letters received from Washington that 
you two were to be operated on and might be made to succumb. 
As the wildest supporters of the right of Instructions never till 
now as I have heard, pretended that the Legislature could with 
propriety instruct a member of the house of Representatives I 
regard this step on the part of those gentlemen as a proof that 
the State has fallen into the hands of people that have no sense 
of propriety. 

I do not conceal to you my opinion that your honor is con- 
cerned not only to vote but to speak, and with all your power 
against the Sub-Treasury bill. Any compromise with these 
people will be regarded by them as a triumph over your principles. 
Rhett, who is certainly a clever man (not Jim but Albert) 
delivered a speech filled with the most bitter feelings, and the 
most insolent contempt of the common rules of civility, and 
morals that I ever heard. Denouncing Hamilton, Hayne, etc., 
as deserters; and proclaiming the sub-treasury to be the test 
question of the great party, — therefore there was to be no fool- 
ing or talking of moral scruples. And to these nefarious senti- 
ments nearly every Union man (that was) set his seal as well as 
all the nullifiers with a few scattering votes here and there. 

This looks badly for our case. Now see what there is on the 
other side. 

At a dinner yesterday after these exhibitions at a private 
table, therefore not to be published, McDuffie denounced the 
sub-treasury in unmeasured terms of reprobation, and Hayne 
who was present was equally bold. A few of us put Toomer up 
to wait on Noble and invite him to be Governor, to which he gave 
his gracious assent — greatly to the annoyance of Elmore — who 
is equally anxious to be the great man for 2 years and who 
doubtless expected to choke Noble off. There is good reason 
to believe that a reaction has begun in Richland which will 
make even Elmore's election doubtful. 

If the sub-treasury fails in Congress the party that has been 
hastily gathered under that cry, will as hastily disperse — and 
the violence with which these men have begun will deprive them 
of the power which they have shown so much inclination to 

The Bill for the relief of Charleston passed easily, being 
turned into a measure for the increase of the capital of the Bank, 
and we are all going home after a week of great excitement with 
a sincere wish on my part that we may never meet again. Show 
this letter discreetly and to none but Preston and Thompson. 

Yours truly, 

James Louis Petigru 199 


Augusta, 19 August, 1838. 
My dear Jane: 

As I suppose Tom has left you for Greenville (anticipating 
the time when you read what I am writing) this letter is for you 
instead of him as I at first intended. Two disappointments 
kept me in Milledgeville two days longer than I intended. On 
Wednesday night the stage was full and I was obliged to return 
to Gov. Gilmer's after packing up and waiting at the tavern an 
hour. Again on Thursday night the stage came crowded from 
the west, and it was not till Friday the 17th that I got a seat and 
proceeded on my journey. 1 was quite indisposed that night 
and the next day, but arrived in Augusta yesterday at 4 o'clock 
and am now quite well. In the morning I will take the car and 
hope to be at home the same evening. * * * 

I suppose Tom has told you of our expedition and of the grand 
crops we saw on the Chattahoochie. My old schoolfellow Gov. 
Gilmer and cheerful little wife received us with the kindness of 
former days. He is indeed a primitive sort of Governor and 
exemplifies in his own practice the republicanism that he pro- 
fesses. No parade — no show — no silver forks — dinner at 1 
o'clock — the afternoon at the office as well as the morning — the 
evening reading the same newspapers as in the morning — home 
at supper and early bedtime. Such is the day the Governor 
passes, but the sincerity and honesty that characterize this 
ruler of the people are better than the glare of a court, at least 
for us, and the heartiness with which his little wife welcomes 
any one that has the good fortune to be her husband's friend, is 
the best commentary upon the union that has made them one. 
I went to church to-day, and have made out with less ennui than 
I expected, the time that I have been forced to delay in this 
place. I hope that you will agree with the Trustees of the 
school, but if you do not, we will make out as well as we can. 
My love to Tom and Anne and Mary if they are with you, and 
to the children at all events, and always dear Jane, 

Your affectionate Brother. 

to hugh s. legare 

Newport, 10 September, 1838. 
My dear Legare: 

I perceive by your letter that you have not got the one I wrote 
just before I left Charleston. As you are so near us I do hope 
you will come to Newport. I desire to talk over many things 
with you and to hear many. I suppose you know for Ben Huger 
could have told you that I have been in the Western Country — 
and may easily conceive how much I am behind in my corres- 

200 J^ije^ Letters and Speeches 

pondence. That last letter was written to be showed Alfred — 
and to be taken therefore in a sort of middle sense, which may 
explain the tone of it if it falls into your hands. With all our 
friends termed sub-treasury men, it is impossible to contend for 
principles except indirectly. The place into which they have 
put South Carolina is so mean and discreditable that it is impos- 
sible for me to feel any interest in her. I trust them as I would 
a drunken man, with whom one does not talk on business at all. 
It is necessary to wait till they are sober. I have no doubt that 
whenever that time comes we shall be commended for not flatter- 
ing her weakness. For your comfort I can tell you that the 
whole difficulty which Stuart and his set have in turning you 
out is to get a decent candidate. And the best symptom of 
the times is that no sub-treasury man of respectable preten- 
sions is willing to oppose you. Of the old nullifiers there are 
hardly ten that do not profess an extravagant admiration of the 
sub-treasury in general, and of the specie clause in particular. 
The Union men with a laudable zeal for the truth which renders 
them doubly anxious not to be wrong a second time raise a still 
louder cry for the same wise, safe and beautiful system, so 
easily understood and so perfectly proof against objection. 
Thus we are left in the city altogether to the commercial classes. 
To be sure the majority of them are with us; but it is only a 
majority. There is Perant the Fisherman, now you know, a 
considerable man — a Bank director, etc. He told me in good 
earnest that he was a strong sub-treasury man. For why? 
Because he was determined if he could help it not to pay a prem- 
ium for specie and Treasury notes. He had been obliged to pay 
by you — two — three — five per cent on the Treasury notes, and 
the Specie, — which is a great shame — and he must have the 

My wife joins me in entreating you to come here. If you come 
remember we stay at Miss Munford's — but it is full of women 
and children. Whitfields or Potters perhaps would suit you 
better, and they are all near. Caroline too joins in requesting 
you to come and in the regard with which we are always and truly 

J. L. P. 

Strange that we can not hear who is the new Mayor. I 
believe that I will bet on Pinckney. 


Charleston, November 12, 1838. 
My dear Legare: 

Your letter of the 29th ult was here before me. We reached 
home on the 9th and I am trying hard to work out the con- 

(Facins 200) 

Mrs. R. F. Allston 


Nee Adele Theresa Petigru 


James Louis Petigru 201 

fusion of papers, business and engagements that I have about me. 
I have seen none of the enemy and conversed but Httle with our 
friends, Huger, Pringle and Mrs. Kinloch Jnd her mother. 
With the rest not at all — having had no interview. But as 
respects your resigning I can not conceive who it is that advised 
you or intimated that you were expected to do so. I am bold 
to say that you are expected to do no such thing and that it 
would be a very fretful act on your part, which nothing could 
justify but your interest or convenience, if you had the plea of 
private interest to set against the claim of public duty. There 
is no fear of our speaking out on the subject if the enemy should 
call on you to resign, but I scarcely think they carry their enter- 
prise so far. 

I was told you were vexed with Holmes. It would be throw- 
ing away much good indignation to bestow it on Ikey. The 
temptation of a seat in Congress was too great for his virtue; 
nor is it to be wondered at. I am sure I would not, as his friend, 
ever consent to expose his principles to such a trial, and can, 
therefore, feel no surprise at his falling into the snare. The 
more difficult case for charity is Poinsett, but he really is a man 
so made up of deceit that when he deceives he is hardly con- 
scious of it. As a proof he could not comprehend the fuss that 
Bennett and Huger made till he had a copy of his letter sent him. 
He now coolly observes that he is at length sensible that his 
early letters are susceptible of the construction that he was 
favorable to your election. It is a long time since I have felt 
any interest in that gentleman, and this trait only surprises me, 
as it is a proof of the want of address or ingenuity. It would 
have been easier to explain the whole thing according to what is 
probably true, that the order to show you no quarter was a con- 
sequence of the final breach between the Democrats and the 
Conservatives. And that the expulsion of the Conservatives 
was now a cabinet question. 

I do not see that it makes any difference whether you come 
home before spring or not, except to your own feelings. All the 
troops of Calhoun and Poinsett have assailed you without provo- 
cation, upon the order of their leader, their hatred will be in 
proportion to the injury they have done you and upon the sight 
of your wounds they would only be more ferocious. If you stay 
away till next year they will have got something else to pursue 
and may even be inclined to forgive you. 

By this time you know the result of the New York election, 
and there is great joy on one side and on the other lamentation. 
There is no man that has more reason than you to wish the 
Whigs success. They have my good wishes without reserve, 
but I fear their rows are wasted on great Jove. Adieu, 

Yours truly. 

202 Life, Letters and Speeches 


Milledgville, 17th December, 1838. 
It is four weeks, my dear Jane, that I have been here, and I 
write now in the Senate Chamber, while they are discussing the 
Sub-treasury, My residence here is in a kitchen and my busi- 
ness no better, for I am employed begging people to do justice, 
and though it is not alms that I ask, still it is begging, and in 
begging one feels as humble as in living in the kitchen. After 
all my pains I have made but little progress. Last Friday they 
resolved to hear me in support of Trezevant and the next day 
they changed their resolution and determined not to hear me. 
All that I expect now is to get a Commission of Inquiry and to 
begin again next winter with a little vantage more than this 
time. My old Friend the Governor* and his wife received me 
with great hospitality, though the nature of my business pre- 
vented me from staying with them. I found here Pholoclea 
Casey, who is no longer the wild young thing that I first knew 
her. She has joined the Methodist Church and looks mature, 
but rattles almost as much as ever. Then there is Mrs. Pepper, 
a niece of Margaret Trezevant, that looks very much like her, 
but loves admiration as much as any widow of them all, but as 
she favors my claim and recommends it to her beaux, I have 
great reason to be grateful to her. Here too I met many of my 
Willington contemporaries, whom I have never seen in 30 years, 
and now see in them melancholy marks of change. * * * j 
hope you have directed Mr. Ben to send his note to Charleston 
for me to pay. By a letter I received from Mr. Reid, I have had 
assurances that Mr. Ben Smith's debt will be paid this winter 
by one Abbott who owes him money. If I can not pay the 
money out of my own, I shall be able to pay it out of yours, 
which is less agreeable to me, but better than being dunned. 
I think that I will have to sell my plantation this winter. It 
goes against me to do so, but there are many reasons for it and I 
hope my wife will be reconciled to it, though she and Caroline 
dislike it both very much. That is one reason why I felt so in 
earnest about Trezevant's claim ;t if I had succeeded in it, 
there would have been no necessity for my selling. It is still 
uncertain how long I shall be here, but probably I will be in 
Savannah by the end of the week and stay there a week or ten 
days. Adieu, my love to the children. Give Eliza joy of her 

Your Brother. 

*Governor Gilmer. 

f Peter Trezevant against the State of Georgia. 

James Louis Petigru 203 



Sells Plantation; Economizing; Feet in the Stocks 

The apprehension of ruin expressed in Mr. Petigru's letter of 
1837 was not without foundation. After bearing the burden 
of financial embarrassment for several years he was forced to 
sell his most available and most remunerative property. On 
25th of January, 1839, he writes to his sister Mrs. North: 


As Tom is going in the morning I wish him to take this line 
to put you in mind of me. I wrote to you when I was at Savan- 
nah and I suppose it is the last you will ever receive from me 
from that place, for I have this day sold the place and half the 
negroes for $55,000. It is a melancholy thing to sell from com- 
pulsion, which is in effect my case. But on the whole I am much 
more satisfied since it is over, and though it has been rendered 
necessary by my Western entanglements and the result of those 
relations is yet very uncertain and may ruin me at last, yet for 
the present we will hope for the best. Tom is going to take 
possession of his new acquisitions, and I daresay he will buy 
another pickpocket place before he comes back, but it is a great 
thing to please one's fancy. Duvall sent your note to Miller & 
Ripley and I would have paid it before if I had not been every 
day and all day engaged in two Courts in very exciting law suits, 
and all the evening in the office till 11 or 12 o'clock. 


Charleston, 21st May, 1839. 
My dear Sister: 

If you think it a long time since you heard from me, I assure 
it appears no less to myself. Since January I have been 
very much hampered and of late showed some symptoms of 
breaking down, but thank God, I am on my feet again strong. 
Mary will be able I hope to give you a narrative of everything 
about everybody, but unless I am mistaken, the very journey 
that she is going upon tomorrow will furnish but too many topics 
for conversation by the time she gets home. Our nautical 

204 ^(/^^j Letters and Speeches 

friend and brother is going off, without having written to apprize 
you, and as it appears to me, without making any preparations. 
I feel grieved to see him doing things which would be laughable 
enough if done by a person one cared nothing for. He is at this 
time in the greatest hurry, without having anything to do and 
at least without knowing what he is going to do. I hope your 
little farm begins to smile and that you have a garden with pulse 
and greens and such things. Dear sister, if I can get my feet 
out of the stocks, for such I may call the trammels that are on 
me and about me, I will see you in July or August. But I don't 
make sure of it, and if I do not come, you may be sure it is 
because I am not able. I rendered your account to the Ordinary 
in April, and have the pleasure of telling you that I now have in 
hand for to pay the Norths 3,200 dollars; by the time you hear 
from me again, expect to hear that this grievous debt is dis- 
charged, and that you are clear of the world. When I can 
announce that fact, we will take a new start — it will be another 
beginning. I suppose my Caroline has written to you. I do 
not know what others say, but she is a very good child. For 
the first time for 14 years we have no carriage, and at no time in 
20 vears has our house been so gloomy as at the very time when 
other people brush up and look as smart as they can to bring out 
a daughter. But she never grumbles, takes everything quietly 
and gains more upon my esteem by her habitual good humor 
and cheerfulness, as she has more occasions and opportunities 
of showing her willingness to submit to circumstances. I sup- 
pose you know that Dan has reformed — a very great reformation 
it is, if I may judge from the language of the Professors, and 
indeed his own letters show that his sentiments are changed very 
much for the better. I count it decidedly the greatest happi- 
ness of my life. 

Sue* I am afraid will after all of our pains turn out a wit. She 
writes oftener than she did, and her French letters, though 
French only in the words, show that she has made some im- 
provement. She affects to be very unhappy, but it appears 
to me she is very unreasonable. She sees better society than she 
would do at home, for Mrs. Drayton patronizes her and she 
could not have a better model nor visit a house by which she 
will improve so much. I did not think that I would write so 
much, for I am tired with a long dispute between two widows — 
of the same husband, mind — whose quarrel by some fatality 
has kept the court (Judge Lee) off and on for a month, and 
with a set of prosy clients that have left me hardly life enough to 

*His daughter Susan was sent, at the age of fifteen, to the fashionable ladies' 
school of Madam Giyou of Philadelphia. One of her daughters, Acelie, married 
Dr. John Togno. She became a great friend of Susan, and will be subsequently 

James Louis Petigru 205 

write now to you. I embrace the children and am dear Jane 
as ever affectionately 

Your Brother, 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

September 30, 1839. 
The death of General Hayne has cast a gloom upon the sit- 
uation of our affairs. His loss is as deeply felt as that of any 
person in our community could have been, perhaps more gener- 
ally than that of any other man. He was not quite 48 years of 
age and had had the most uninterrupted career of success which 
any person in my time has enjoyed. He has left five children, 
two of the last marriage,* three of the first. f 

*Rebecca Mott Alston, daughter of William Alston. 
tFrances Pinckney, daughter of Charles Pinckney, 

206 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 



Marriage of His Daughter, Caroline, to William A. 
Carson; Dean Hall Plantation, Cooper River 

to william elliott 

Charleston, 6th October, 1841. 
My dear Elliott: 

* * * You have seen that our friend, Legare, has got a 
place in the commonwealth and I have given him my clerk who 
is worth all the abstractions from the beginning of time. Cap- 
tain Tyler* is an oddity. He is like some weak man, justly 
chargeable with superstition, because he looks for an infallible 
guide in some book, that has no claim to inspiration. But, 
what is so ridiculous is, that it is his own book that makes this 
formidable authority and, like a fool, he is turning over the 
leaves of his old speeches, to ascertain what he should say or 
think, in circumstances which call for the exercise of all his 
judgment, and of which he had no idea when his feeble speeches 
were made. If he was not such an imbecility he would resign 
or go over to the Democrats. Adieu. 

Yours truly. 

Although Mr. Petigru at this time was overrun with work and 
harassed by business cares, his attention was further distracted 
by the marriage of his eldest daughter, which would cause a 
serious change in his household. 

Caroline Petigru during her early years went to school in 
Charleston to Miss Susan Robertson. The cardinal principles 
of this school were punctuality, demeanor, and English grammar. 

On the recommendation of Mr. William Drayton she was sent, 
in April, 1834, to the school of Madame Binsse in Varick Street, 
opposite St. Johns Park, New York City. Miss Cruger had, 
after Madame Binsse, the government of the child and devoted 
herself to the little Hamilton and her. 

While she was at school in New York she said that Miss 

*John Tyler, President. 

James Louis Petigru 207 

Cruger taught her her fine manners and the finer points of 
social tactics. 

Petigru writes on the 4th of August, 1835, to Mrs. North: 
"Caroline has been sick since the first of July and lost the 
whole month to her school. She improves every day, and is as 
amiable as ever, but not so pretty. Her improvement is equal 
to what I expected. They say she has a little music; her draw- 
ing is very creditable, and her French is beyond what she would 
have obtained at home, but not complete. Indeed sixteen is 
not an age to finish one's education, and in taking her from 
school I do wrong and do it knowingly; but she and her mother 
are both against me and I yield. Perhaps the more easily 
because I love the child so much, and that I can not but feel the 
influence of the pleasure I expect in having her with me at home." 

From her intelligence, character and good sense, — in a word, 
her personality, Caroline Petigru made friends among all classes 
of society, from statesmen, bishops, lawyers, doctors and 
artists down to the humblest menial. 

On her return home, under the direction of her father, — which 
was a liberal education in itself, — she diligently continued her 
studies. Being similar in capacity and taste, each took pride 
and pleasure in the achievements and accomplishments of the 
other, and in time there was developed between them a mutual 

Much to his gratification she gradually reorganized the Broad 
Street household with some consideration for his happiness and 
comfort. Although without assuming official control, she was 
by tacit consent ever recognized as the guiding hand of the 

It can readily be imagined what a difference her marriage 
would make in his life. 

In the Charleston Courier and Mercury is found the following 
notice dateci Friday, December 17th, 1841: 

Married on Thursday, 16th inst., by the Rev. Paul Trapier, 
William Augustus Carson to Caroline, eldest daughter of James 
L. Petigru * * * 

As to the origin of his son-in-law, William A. Carson, the 
following are extracts from a letter of John Peter Richardson* 
to Mr. Petigru: 

♦Governor of South Carolina 1840-1842. 

208 J^ijc^ Letters and Speeches 

Fulton P. Off., June 14th, 1 855. 
Dear Petigru: 

* * * My informant is Mrs. Amarinthia Carson Nelson 
— widow of Samuel E. Nelson — and first cousin of William A. 
Carson's father. 

It is supposed that Carson, like my grandfather, was an emi- 
grant from some of the thin settled portions of North Carolina 
or Virginia. His manners, his virtues and intelligence, must 
have been of no ordinary character, to enable him to marry into 
one of the oldest and most respectable families in the district — 
and dying after a short sojourn among them, to leave a memory 
which all delighted to cherish. * * * 

Carson (the great-grandfather of your descendants) married 
Jane Frierson — the daughter of James Frierson and of his wife 
a Miss Gamble; then one of the wealthiest and oldest families in 
this part of the State; the Gambles being no less so than the 
Friersons. The only offspring of this marriage as I have under- 
stood, was the James Carson of our own recollection. Left an 
orphan at an early age, by the death of both parents — and from 
some cause or another with a patrimony much diminished below 
the comparative affluence of the other members of the family — 
he became the pet and protege of his maternal relations, and 
among others of my grandmother — who assumed the control of 
his education — and placed him at school in her own family under 
a Mr. Mason with my father* and uncles. With them his inti- 
macy continued through life — although (from some cause or 
another) with his other connections somewhat interrupted, in 
the days of his after prosperity. Live stock being then the chief 
staple commodity of this vicinity (many of our yeomanry hav- 
ing their thousand cattle upon a thousand hills) — his relatives 
jointly contributed to make up a patrimony for him in this time 
the relics of which but a few years since were still to be traced in 
the neighborhood — and were highly esteemed as the most val- 
uable of cattle under the name of the Carson stock. * * * 
Yours very truly and sincerely, 

James Carson, the father of William A. Carson, was born in 
1774. As a young man he moved to Charleston and became a 
merchant. There is a notice in the S. C. Gazette, that the co- 
partnership of Charles Snowden and James Carson was dis- 
solved by mutual consent. He then continued as a merchant 
until 1814, as is shown by French spoliation claims, when he 
retired. He was succeeded by his clerks — Kershaw and Cun- 
ningham, who in turn were succeeded by Alexander Robertson 
and John F. Blacklock. 

*James E. Richardson, Governor of South Carolina, 1802-1804. 

James Louis Petigru 

by thomas sully 


(Facing 208) 

James Louis Petigru 209 

There are other notices that show that James Carson was 
director of several banks, insurance companies, steward of the 
dinner of the Charleston Light Dragoons, that he and T. Pinck- 
ney were managers of the Jockey Club Ball in 1809; all of which 
show that he took an active interest in the affairs of the city. 
Mr. Petigru always spoke of him as one of the most courteous 
and clever men that he ever knew; that he had the capacity 
before he was forty years old to make a fortune and the good 
sense to retire. 

His tombstone, still in perfect preservation, is found in the 
northwest corner of the old cemetery at Balston Spa, New York, 
with the following meagre inscription: 



memory of 

James Carson, Esq., 

Native of Charleston 

South Carolina, 

Who visited this place 

for his health 

Died on the 16th of Augt. 

1816 aged 

42 years. 

On the 6th of May, 1796,* he married Elizabeth Neyle, born 
1764; died 1 848. She was the daughter of Samson Neyle, who in 
1756 was a merchant in Charleston and also owned plantations 
at Santee River. He had three sons and five daughters.! 

Samson Neyle's eldest son Philip, at the age of twenty-nine, 
was killed by a cannon ball during the siege of Charleston, in 
May, 1780. A tablet was erected to his memory on the wall of 
St. Philip's Church, which was destroyed by fire in 1835. 

Mrs. Carson always preferred to employ a white coachman. 
One day when he was drunk he allowed the horses to run ofl^; 
the carriage was overturned and she was killed in 1848, at the 
age of eighty-four. In 1805 James Carson bought as a resi- 

*South Carolina Gazette; 12th of May, 1796. 
tEIizabeth, married James Carson, 1796. 

Caroline, married Frederick Sole. 

Harriet, married Herbemont, S. C. 

Mary, married Howard Thomas, Ga. 

Lydia, married Robert Habersham, Ga. 

210 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

dence the house at 90 Tradd Street, corner of Orange, where Mrs. 
Carson resided until her death, 

James Carson and his wife had two children — Laura, 1798, 
and William A. Carson 1800-1856. Laura Carson and Jane 
Amelia Postell (afterwards Mrs. Petigru) attended the fashion- 
able ladies' school of Mile. Datie. In 1816 Laura married Henry 
Brevoort of New York, who like many other prosperous people 
in New York had been a clerk of John Jacob Astor, upon whose 
retirement Mr. Brevoort succeeded to the business. They had 
three sohs and five daughters who have left several descendants 
fairly well-to-do, and some of them eminently proper citizens. 

William Augustus Carson was a rice planter, good-looking, 
well educated and entirely a man of the world; he was dignified 
and modest in manners, genial, clever and entertaining in con- 
versation. He occasionally spoke of his aunts, Mrs. Haber- 
sham and Mrs. Thomas of Georgia; and Mrs. Herbemont of 
Columbia, South Carolina, and of his cousins in Camden. But 
as he could never find time to visit any of them, the connections 
were not kept up. 

Soon after the death of his father he left Harvard College, 
where he was a student, and returned to Charleston to look after 
the interests of his mother. He was seized with the fascination 
of rice-planting and in 1821 he and his mother bought Dean 
Hall plantation on Cooper River. Previous to the Revolution 
Dean Hall had been owned by two Scotch baronets, — Sir John 
and Sir Alexander Nesbit. Here they probably led the life of 
country gentlemen. In February, 1796, a race was run between 
John Randolph of Virginia and Sir John Nesbit of Dean Hall. 
Each rode his own horse; Randolph won. Many of the married 
fair ones were heard to confess after the race was over that 
"although Mr. Randolph had won the race. Sir John had won 
their hearts and they much preferred him in a match to his more 
successful competitor."* 

The dwelling house of Sir John Nesbit, which was burnt down, 
was on a hill three hundred yards north of the present house, 
which, in a much inferior location, was built by William A. Car- 
son in 1827. This house is fifty feet square; three stories high; 
with a piazza all around supported on brick arches, the roof being 
of slate; the walls are 18 inches thick, made of old Carolina grey 

*History ot Turf of South Carolina, page 18. 

James Louis Petigru 211 

brick, laid in shell lime mortar. The standard size of these 
bricks is 9 by Al< by 2yi inches, and each weighed six pounds. 
They were made at the Medway Plantation of Back River. 
The same kind of bricks were used in the construction of Fort 

General Cullum of the United States Engineers, who had 
examined the masonry of the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans, 
and Spaniards, said that he considered them the best brick that 
he had seen in any part of the world. As Captain of Engineers 
in charge of construction at Fort Sumter up to 1860, he often 
visited the plantation. 

The durability of the roads, floodgates, wells and other con- 
structions of William A. Carson show that he was a capable 
engineer and in his ideas on sanitation and drainage consider- 
ably ahead of his time. 

The following description gives a good picture of the rice 
plantation of those days: 

We have now reached the " T," forty miles from the city. 
The main body of Cooper River here divides into two branches, 
the eastern and the western. The boat takes the latter branch. 
Immediately on turning into it. Dean Hall, the former residence 
of Sir John Nesbit, a Scotch baronet, but now the estate of 
Colonel Carson, — breaks upon our view. The site this planta- 
tion occupies is very favorable to a view of the river. It resem- 
bles a well-ordered village more than a single plantation. The 
residence of the proprietor, the condition of the fields, — the 
banks — the white and cleanly appearance of the negro houses, — 
the mill and threshing machine in complete order, — all excite 
a strong feeling of admiration and stamp at once the proprietor 
as an experienced and skilful planter. 

It is the place visited recently by a distinguished nobleman, 
who, after scrutinizing, as was his wont, with an inquisitive eye, 
all things appertaining to the habits, food, clothing and treat- 
ment of the slaves, voluntarily tendered this honest conviction 
of his heart, — "It is impossible," he said, "for me, an English- 
man [Sir Charles Lyell] to say I am a convert to your institu- 
tions, but I candidly confess, from all I have seen, my prejudices 
have been entirelv eradicated.* 

"A Day on Cooper River," by J. B. Irving, 1842. 

212 Life^ Letters and Speeches 



Financial Failure 

The embarrassment of Petigru's affairs caused by the adoption 
of specie payments precipitated his difficulties and the final 
disaster came in 1842, 

South Western Railroad Bank, 

Charleston, S. C, January 11th, 1842. 
James L. Petigru, Esq., 

Dear Sir: 

At a meeting of the Board of Directors of this Bank held this 
day I was instructed "to inform you that at the maturity of 
your note for $9,602.56 endorsed by Gen. James Hamilton and 
falling due on the 17th inst., a reduction of the amount will be 
required and also that some responsible names be substituted 
for that of Gen. Jas. Hamilton. 

I remain very respectfully your most obedient servant, 

Edwin P. Starr, 
Presdt. Pro Tem. 


Charleston, 15 January, 1842. 
Dear Sir: 

I have to acknowledge yours of the 11th inst. communicating 
a Resolution of the Board respecting my note falling due on the 
17th. The indorser on that paper is really the principal, and tho' 
this detracts nothing from my obligation to pay, it may in some 
measure account for my not having expected to be obliged to 
provide for it. As my friend is expected in a few days and it is 
not in my power to meet the heavy engagements which I am 
under for him, I will ask the indulgence of the Board for time to 
make a specific proposal at least for a few weeks. It is not 
impossible that his arrival may place us in a situation to do more 
justice to the kind and considerate indulgence we have received 
from your institution than is unfortunately now in the power of, 
dear sir. Your obedient servant, 

J. L. Petigru. 

James Louis Petigru 213 

A letter of the 26th of February, 1842: 

* * * No doubt you have been advised of Sue's doings, 
though I had not the consideration to tell you of it directly. It 
is now a nine days' wonder that nobody wonders at any more. 
I hope you like it, as we are all very well pleased here; but when 
the knot is to be tied we do not know. * * * These are 
times of great suffering, but I am told the race course was as 
well frequented as ever. 

"Among the calamities that have touched my feelings there 
are few for whom I am more sorry than Mr. Bullock, of Savan- 
nah, who is totally ruined by the success, too, of his own policy ^ 
or that of his party, the hard money, no credit system. It 
would not surprise me if a great many of our public men on the 
same side should be reserved for the same distinction, and be 
examples of the superiority of party to considerations of interest. 
Everybody is pleased with Jim* Rhett's disgrace, who is beaten 
more than 5 to 1 by Isaac Holmes, and I am pleased, too, with 
Barnwell Rhett's election, who has succeeded, but with such 
difficulties as will be a lesson to him. 


Charleston, April 1, 1842. 
Dear Sue: 

More than a week ago, I had the pleasure of hearing from you, 
and then resolved that I would take the very earliest opportunity 
of expressing the pleasure which your well formed and easily 
legible character of writing gave me. I never could enter into 
the refinement that sets no value on a fine hand. It is true that 
no embellishments of penmanship confer dignity upon a mean 
style; and if the thoughts are not liberal, the decoration of hand- 
some capitals and well turned stems and tails never procure for 
one the praise of fine writing. But the same thing may be said 
of good words; they will not of themselves make amends for 
the want of good sense; yet without some command of diction, 
some skill in the adaption of language to harmony as well as 
variety of expression, wisdom itself would suffer under the re- 
proach of rudeness and rusticity. Be not ashamed therefore 
of the merit of possessing a belle ecriture. It is well to aim at 
the highest excellence, but not well to neglect the subordinate 
and secondary virtues of neatness and external ornament. 
Perhaps I am needlessly alarmed by the fear that you will be 
carried away by an admiration of the surprising discovery of the 
phonetic hieroglyphics, which the fame of Champollion has so 
widely diffused; but I can not help expressing my hope that you 

*Younger brother of R. B. Rhett; married Miss Haskell, sister of C. T. Haskell. 

214 ^z/^j Letters and Speeches 

will never select this particular for the subject of a change. In 
return, I will allow you an almost boundless latitude of inno- 
vation in other habits; such as reading — studying — I mean read- 
ing novels and studying amusements. Aunt Jane does not go 
till Monday. * * * We got to town in good time on Wed- 
nesday, and were in our house at 7 o'clock. I packed off Nanny 
this morning by Ma's directions. I know that it is commonly 
impertinent to hope that Ma is better, but now I venture to do 
so, and I think the extraordinary revival she experienced after 
the faintness brought on by the voyage was over, will excuse me 
for doing so. I would give almost the price of a monkey to see 
her admiring Jack's tricks as he climbed the rope and displayed 
his antics before her on the piazza. It was so new and so gratify- 
ing to see her amused again. By the mail I send a letter from 
Dan, also one from Maria Murray, and if this is a short one, I 
lay claim to some merit on account of the others, and think I 
have a sort of right to be credited with three letters, tho' I 
write but one. I don't know whether I shall be lonesome after 
your aunt is gone, but you may be sure Sue (and of this you may 
give your mother and sister a hint) that the recollections of the 
party at Dean Hall will seldom be absent from the thoughts of 

Your Father. 

P. S. — I don't write to Ma, chiefly as having little to say and 
secondly because she will get a letter from Dan, and it is fair 
that the Post Office prizes should be distributed. 

In the next letter Mr. Petigru speaks of Stephen Augustus 
Hurlbut, son of the President of the College of Beaufort, who 
studied law in Mr. Petigru's office. In 1845 Hurlbut went to 
Springfield, Illinois, where he became an intimate friend of Lin- 
coln. During the war he was a Major General, and distin- 
guished himself at the battle of Shiloh. After the war he was a 
member of Congress for several years from Illinois, and Minis- 
ter to Peru. In this letter Mr. Petigru describes the funeral of 
Bishop England. Some years before he was engaged in impor- 
tant work for the Roman Catholic Church at Charleston. He 
refused to receive any compensation, which was, indeed, a fre- 
quent practice of his towards those for whom he entertained 
feelings of friendship. The dignitaries of the church presented 
him with a massive and handsome silver goblet with the very 
appropriate and appreciative inscription: 

"James L. Petigru. Juris legumque peritus." 

James Louis Petigru 215 


Broad Street, 12 April, 1842. 
My dear Sue: 

If Henry Lesesne was not in Georgetown and the Court open 
at the corner of Meeting and Queen Streets, I would go up in the 
steamboat tomorrow myself. But it is not for him who has, in his 
youth, read poor Richard's maxims about the value of diligence 
and in his age, found the necessity of practising them, to leave 
his shop a whole day with not even Hurlbut to keep it. For, 
he is to muster tomorrow, and even Cogdell can hardly be spared 
from the Governor's review; so, however reluctantly, the struggle 
is over and this is all you will see of me for a week at least. It 
was a grand funeral day this. The Court adjourned, the Gov- 
ernor put off his review, the bells were tolled and everybody 
gathered at St. Finbar's to assist in the funeral obsequies of the 
illustrious Prelate. Protestant curiosity carried it over protes- 
tant prejudice, and the seats near the chancel were filled by 
people like myself without a breviary. The Rev. Mr. Post 
borrowed one of one of the nuns and Mrs. Dana, the Rev's 
better half, showed she knew Latin by keeping her eyes upon it. 
They chanted a long service from the Psalter and then, a High 
Mass for the Dead followed. It was more than two hours 
before all was over. Then came forward a young ecclesiastic 
and informed them that the interment would take place in the 
afternoon, but the fneneis of the deceased wished to be alone and 
politely requested the public to withdraw. But, although the 
crowd and heat were so oppressive, they showed no hurry to 
be gone. I thought that I would have had to walk over the 
heads of some of them to get out by the same back way by which 
we had entered. 

Then again in the afternoon the I. O. O. F. or Odd Fellows 
turned out to bury a brother, one of their order, and made a 
grand display down Meeting Street with the ensigns of their 

At the Bishop's funeral, I saw none of our Episcopal clergy 
but Charles Elliott. One of the most conspicuous of the stran- 
gers was the Jewish Rabbi; and Mr. Fuller* of Beaufort, who 
had the long controversy with the Bishop, had a seat among the 
Priests, and evinced by his tears the greatest degree of feeling. 

The letter of Dan to his mother was sent by Agnes to the 
office and coming without a word of explanation, I hardly knew 
what to make of it. However obscure one's style may be on 
other occasions, he will be sure to be intelligible when he wants 
money; so says the Spectator of the correspondence of an Oxford 
youth in his day, and our Princeton disciples have not changed 

*Rev. Richard Fuller, a distinguished Baptist minister. 

216 Lijcy Letters and Speeches 

that part of a liberal education. So I packed off a Bill to Mr. 
Tallmadge and requested him to give Dan money to come home. 
The vacation begins on Thursday and he will get my letter 
tomorrow; the vacation is five weeks, and we will probably see 
him here by the end of the first. I very much admired your 
spirited account of the picnic, and did not find the latter any less 
agreeable from being so legible. Signor Ravina has indicted 
an epistle for you, which (to avert, I suppose, any suspicion of 
abusing the Master's privilege after the manner of Abelard) he 
has sent open, and in the same way I enclose it to you. I would 
fain hope that the famous accoimt you have given of Ma's 
revival will not need any qualification in your next. I don't 
think the streets are any quieter and the little Melvins no doubt 
miss her extremely, for, they are deprived of the resource of 
polite conversation which they used to have, by accosting me 
every day to ask how Mrs. Petigru is. I have no doubt that 
Louisa Ancrum was married to day, but I have seen nobody 
that was at the wedding, and must refer that and all the impor- 
tant news of the day in the same line, to some other time. Mrs. 
Neufville was very anxious to see your letter, but, as there was 
not a word in it about herself, I wisely withheld it from her 
curiosity. It is 10 o'clock; I had no notion of writing so much, 
but will desist, not without love to Ma and sister and thanks to 
our Familiar for taking such good care of you all, and hope of 
hearing of you by the return of the boat, the good accounts which 
will, of all things always form the greatest balm to the feelings 

Your Father. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

19th of May, 1842. 

There is nothing like good habits as I feel from them that I 
miss. But it is not habit, it is truth and sincerity with me when 
I write to remind you of my affection. So much is it second 
nature now to write only at the office and there to write but one 
sort of letter that I began this mechanically, "My dear Sir." 
* * * It is said by people from Washington that Mr. Cal- 
houn and Mr. Legare are becoming cronies. I have not heard 
from my quondam Whig for a long time, but in fact it is my 
fault, not his, for he has written to me last and if I mistake not 
more than once. I am sorry that we do not hear from the 
Constellation^ but will evidently have some advices of her by the 
next Chinese arrivals. [His brother Thomas was on this ship.] 

P.S. — I have come to no conclusion with my creditors, but 
have had a conversation to-day with General Hamilton that will 
remove any difficulty in my broaching the subject as soon as I 
am in a condition to make a specific proposition. 

James Louis Petigru 217 

Among Petigru's papers was the following note: 

Four months after date, I promise to pay to the order of J. 
L. Petigru, Esq., Twenty-five hundred and sixteen y^j Dollars 
for value received at the Bank of Charleston, S. C. 

J. Hamilton 

This note was duly protested on October 15,1842, and on the 
back of the protest is the following endorsement: 

Note, $2,516.79 

Protest, 2.00 

Nov. 7, 1842, interest, 23 da., .. 11.10 


Reed, payment from the endorser Nov. 8th, 1842. 

C. McKinney. 

The endorsement on the note reads as follows: 

J. L. Petigru 

per Atty. Henry D. Lesesne. 
J. Hamilton. 


Charleston, 30 June, 1842. 
My dear Sir: 

The enclosed is what I have been about for some time, and 
now submit with a degree of resignation not unmixed with 
anxiety. The question really is to the Bank what will the assets 
realize? To me what can T pay? The mortgages on my house 
and the two lots will of course make the rate of payment much 
less than if they were free. On the other hand my proper debts 
I must pay with future earnings, for the Oswitchie loan has 
absorbed everything I had that produced income. In view of 
these considerations I can not avoid the conclusion that even 
the humble dividend of 10 per cent will rather exceed than fall 
short of my means. Yours truly. 

Any explanation will be gladly given. 


J. L. Petigru. 

My dear Hamilton: 

I wish you would have for me, either at the foot of this paper, 
or any other way, a declaration of the fact that the note for 
upwards of $9,000 in the Rail Road Bank, drawn by me and 

218 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

endorsed by you, was made for your use, and that as between 
ourselves you are the principal. 

Yours truly, 
1 April, 1842. J. L. Petigru. 

The note in the S Western Rail Road Bank for Nine thousand 
dollars was discounted for my use, altho' drawn by Mr. Petigru. 
Charleston, 1 April, 1842. J. Hamilton. 

A schedule of liabilities totalling ?105,544.36, with assets 
amounting to 323,000.00, is given, and on the reverse side of the 
sheet is written: 

My means have been absorbed in the Oswitchie Company, 
and the only property left besides what is on the other side was 
50 negroes. These, in 1840, I mortgaged to Hope & Co. and 
Hayne of Hamburgh with the property of the Company. To 
all practical purposes they are gone. 

I have not included in this statement the Oswitchie property 
in which I am entitled to a fourth — because of the great amount 
of the debt of the Company — and a further sum of $100,000 
which is jointly owing to Mr. Coster by Gen. Hamilton and my- 
self, and forms a charge which exceeds the value of the subject. 

This exception is made with a view to a composition of 
security debts on the principle of a fair distribution pro rata. 
If there was any probability that the debtor could do better, he 
would not come down to such an offer. 

30 June, 1842. J. L. Petigru. 

A memorandum regarding the debts of the Oswitchie Company 
shows that they amount to $225,000. 

The Board of Directors of the Bank of Charleston and of the 
Southwestern Railroad Bank, comprehending fully the circum- 
stances of his case as indorser for General James Hamilton, 
unanimously agreed to accept his proposition to pay ten per 
cent on the amount of his indebtedness and release him from 
further responsibility. 


Charleston, 19th July, 1842. 
* * * The Charleston & Rail Road Bank have agreed to 
release me from 40,000 dollars of security for 4,000 dollars paid 
down. I have at this time but 400, but from this day I must 
look about for some money wherever I can, and must get from 
Tom this winter all he can spare. I am in hopes now that I 

James Louis Petigru 219 

shall clamber over this mountain in my path, though I can never 
expect to rake and scrape enough to retire as I once hoped to do, 
when too old for the stage. * * * 

Your Brother. 

To meet the losses of the oversanguine, or imprudent, Missis- 
sippi speculation he had to sacrifice his Savannah River planta- 
tion and various other resources. Still a large debt remained. 

It was a terrible calamity for one 53 years old, with many 
claimants on his generosity and love. Yet it was encountered 
with manly energy, and after many years of exertion the debt 
was paid. 

In this hard trial of his fortunes steadfast friends were ready 
to stand by him, — to pledge themselves and risk their fortunes 
in his aid. One of these, an old neighbor in the city, prompt at 
a moment's notice in venturing his whole property to stay the 
impending ruin, thought it a duty first to consult with another 
person — the partner of his household and life, and deeply inter- 
ested, like himself, in the risk and the result. Her reply was, 
without an instant's hesitation, "Go on; sustain the man whom 
you had taken to your bosom as a friend, and who is worthy to 
be so; encounter any risk; I am ready to join you in meeting the 
consequences, whatever they may be."* 

Mrs. Petigru often delighted in telling the story that on the 
occasion when Mr. Petigru sent his bond to Judge Huger, the 
Judge immediately threw it into the fire, with the remark, "I 
don't want any bond from Petigru." Such was friendship with 
these men. 

It was not uncommon for Mr. Petigru's friends and even for 
members of his family to lay the blame of his ruin upon General 
Hamilton. No such complaint ever escaped his lips. Hamil- 
ton was essentially of a speculative temperament, and in this 
instance Mr. Petigru seems to have allowed himself to join in the 
speculation. That it turned out disastrously only proved the 
error of his friend's judgment and nothing more. It never 
affected their relations, which continued to be cordial and inti- 
mate. His friendship for Hamilton suffered no diminution. 
He always esteemed him an honest man and exerted himself to 
advance his children. 

*Grayson Memoir, page 141. 

220 ^if^y Letters and Speeches 

At the time of his failure, General Hamilton had a meeting 
of his creditors, of whom Mr. Petigru was one of the most import- 
ant, and he was employed to unravel the tangle. After affairs 
had been somewhat cleared up, Hamilton's friends wished to 
raise a fund of $25,000 "to get Hamilton on his legs." They 
consi3^ted Mr. Petigru on the subject, but in answer to the appeal 
he replied: "What.'' 325,000 to set Hamilton on his legs? 
Why it would not be enough to help him to sit up!" 

The following letters show the conclusion of this unfortunate 
matter and exhibit the high sense of honor which at all times 
governed Mr. Petigru's actions: 


My dear Sir: 

About a year and a half ago (in Novem. 1851) my mother was 
called upon to pay a debt of her brother. General Hamilton's, 
arising out of a bond which my father had signed as security for 
him; and in order to accomplish it she was compelled to sacri- 
fice the single small portion of real estate, which his manage- 
ment had left her: namely her house and lot in Bull street. In 
the anxiety and distress which this naturally occasioned, none 
of us thought of examining very closely into the matter; but 
recently my attention has been attracted by the fact that you 
were also a signer with my father, upon the bond, and it has 
therefore occurred to me that you might be equally responsible 
for the discharge of the debt; will you be good enough to inform 
me if I am correct in thinking so? I enclose the bond herein 
for your examination, accompanied by the lien on the house 
which the General induced my mother to sign to secure pay- 
ment of the bond. 

The amount paid you will perceive by the receipt annexed to 
the bond dated Nov. 4, 1851, was $2,223.37. 

I remain, dear sir, with great respect and esteem, 
Your obedient servant, 

July 11, 1853. Chs. K. Prioleau.* 


Charleston, July 13, 1853. 
My dear Sir: 

I am just in receipt of your esteemed favor of this date and 
hasten to offer you my thanks for the very kind manner in which 

*Charles Kuhn Prioleau. His father was Judge Samuel Prioleau; his mother 
was Elizabeth Lynch Hamilton, sister of James Hamilton, Jr. He later became 
a member of the firm of Fraser, Trenholm & Co., Liverpool, the financial agents 
of the Confederacy during the Civil War. 

James Louis Petigru 221 

you acknowledge your responsibility in the matter referred to, 
and for your proposal to return to my mother half of the sum 
which she paid out. It will be quite agreeable to mother to 
receive the $1,111.68, whenever it suits your convenience best 
to pay it. 

I fear the General never would have paid this debt; and the 
parties only waited until it was reduced low enough to be, cov- 
ered by the value of the house, when they threatened foreclosure 
and we had to sell. Reiterating my sense of your kindness, I 
remain, my dear sir. 

Very respectfully and truly yours, 

C. K. Prioleau. 

When Mr. Petigru was over 60 Hamilton approached him 
with some new visionary scheme for making a fortune and asked 
him to become a party to it, to which he replied: "No, Jim, I 
can not join you, but I will subscribe to it," and he handed him 
a check for no inconsiderable amount. 

General Hamilton was born May 8, 1786. He was drowned 
November 15, 1857, in a steamboat collision at Opelousas, 
Texas, after a heroic effort to save the life of a woman. 


Charleston, 19 July, 1842. 
* * * The last news from Washington is that Lord Ash- 
burton's mission so far as Maine is concerned, is a failure, that 
the Maine and Massachusetts men and Mr. Webster himself are 
unanimous to reject his Lordship's proposals. At any other 
time, such a state of things would make people uneasy about 
war. It is believed too that Mr. Webster will soon leave office 
and it is said that Mr. Legare is one of the greatest men at 
Washington. * * * Two lawyers have within a week been 
killed by drink. Oliver Smith, so notorious for a certain sort of 
practice, was it seems equally fond of money and carousing. 
He went out to drive in his gig and was so drunk as to be run- 
ning his horse up and down Meeting Street. T. Higham and 
his wife were going home soberly in a buggy about ten o'clock at 
night; poor Smith ran against them, struck the hub of the 
buggy's hind wheel and was thrown out and killed on the spot. 
Tom and his wife escaped with the fright. The other case is a 
poor youth not more than 25, son of Josiah Taylor, who died in 
his bed, having already drunk all he could in a lifetime. This 
boy was a few years ago the pride of Mr. Coates' school. * * * 
Love to the sisters three and am dear Jane for you and Tom 
and children ever Your Brother. 

222 J^ije^ Letters and Speeches 


September 8, 1842. 

I feel no little pride in thinking of the pleasure with which 
I will have water drawn when I see Badwell again. * * * 
Poor Colonel Pinckney is gone. * * * 

Tyler's administration seems to be a sort of godsend for people 
that never would have had promotion otherwise. I got some 
letters from Legare. He does not write so frankly now he is a 
Cabinet minister and knows how much importance is attached 
to his sayings, but he had a large share in the negotiations in the 
late treaty with G. B. on one point, namely, the Creole. I was 
at Robertson's this morning and saw some of your marine curi- 
osities, which I was really surprised at. But I have great fault 
to find with you for one thing. You declined Mr. Ravenel's* 
request for some shells. Now my dear Tom when one brings 
home shells if he is not a collector of a museum for himself he 
naturally gives them to some one who is a naturalist and has a 
collection. But Ravenel is a great conchologist and the very 
best disposition of your shells is to give them to him. I do hope 
that the work done on the well is not only neat but strong. 


Milledgeville, 17 December, 1842. 
My dear Sue: 

The last night that I was at home, I went to I,ouisa Gladden's 
wedding. The young man appears very respectable and I hope 
she has made a good call. We were fellow passengers next day 
to Columbia, tho' I saw very little of them. At Columbia I 
found all the world agog about making a Senator in Mr. Cal- 
houn's place and very much puzzled about a Governor in Mr. 
Richardson's. In the last affair I had little expected to have 
anything to do and had a great deal, for the opposition had 
determined to vote for Robert Allston whether he would or not. 
Your uncle behaved perfectly well: he did not like Mr. Ham- 
mond and his preference for a private station is not so strong as 
to cause him absolutely to discard the office of Governor from 
the list of desirable things. But he insisted with a manly spirit 
that he would not be Governor by accident, nor give any ground 
to suppose that he had availed himself of a momentary feeling 

*Dr. Edmund Ravenel. Dr. John Holbrook, author of "Holbrook's Herpe- 
tology," and Dr. John Bachman, who in conjunction with Audubon wrote "The 
Animals of North America," and Dr. Ravenel were the scientific representatives 
of Charleston. Agassiz, on a visit to Dr. Ravenel at his plantation on the 
Cooper River, wanted specimens of the fresh water fish. To procure them 
Dr. Ravenel immediately had the water of his reserve drawn off. This en- 
tailed the entire loss of his rice crop, but he had the satisfaction of gratifying 
a friend and showing his love of science. 

James Louis Petigru ' 223 

to carry an election by surprize, when his name had not been 
openly placed before the people for consideration. Under the 
influence of these sentiments, he rose in his place and disclaimed 
the nomination and requested his friends not to vote for him. 
Notwithstanding all this, he got 78 votes and Mr. Hammond had 
only 84. The result made it certain that, if he had not made the 
last public declaration, he would have been elected; for that 
declaration was received by many as an intimation that he would 
not serve. So he has the honor of refusing high office on a 
scruple of delicacy. It is a virtue in a man like the innate sense 
of pride and modesty that, in your sex, will not suffer a lady to 
accept of an acceptable person, if the offer is carelessly made. 
I hope that he will never regret the sacrifice he made, and 1 
should be prouder of it than of a score of elections. Since I 
came away from Columbia, Judge Huger has been elected Sen- 
ator in Congress, a place he has all his life aspired to as the sum- 
mit of his ambition; so that our friends seem to be quite in favor. 
My operations here are not altogether unsuccessful, tho' I have 
no hope of their being brought to a close at this time. It was 
my desire to take Abbeville in the way home, but, sorry am I 
that it can not be done. * * * j could have spent Christmas 
more pleasantly at Badwell than anywhere. It is probable that 
I will spend it on the road. I embrace the aunts and cousins 
and am Dear Sue, affectionately, 

Your Father. 

224 l-ije^ Letters and Speeches 



The Dowager; Case of Jewell & Jewell; Mr. Legarj^; 
Marriage of his Daughter, Susan; Lecture to Susan; 
The Schultz Case 


January 6, 1843. 
* * * I was going to say that I had to meet great changes. 
A grandson is an epoch in one's life and seems to place him fairly 
in the rank of people respectable for age. Well, although honor 
is a fine thing and gray hair ought to be an ambition, I don't 
know whether one is not happier for a little less of it. To be 
sure, when it comes in the shape of preferment, as to our 
friend Judge Huger, there is no mistake as to its tendency, at 
least while the leaves of the civil chaplet are green, to increase 
one's self-complacency. The little specimen of humanity that 
has led to this digression is for certain a fine child, and Caroline 
(Mrs. Carson) looks as well as ever she did in her life. * * * 
My mission to Georgia was about as successful as I expected; 
that is the committee appointed to investigate the subject repor- 
ted that Mr. Trezevant was a bona fide creditor and ought to 
have principal and interest, and that is all was done. But at 
Chattahoochee I had a great deal of trouble with the negroes; 
at least thirty of them on the road in custody of the sheriff, 
taken for an unjust demand. I felt very much like fighting and 
turned them back, and succeeded, at least for the present, in 
staying the ravages of the harpies of the law. Don't mention 
these things when you write. 

Mr. Petigru always spoke of Mrs. Carson, the mother-in-law, 
as the "dowager." Mrs. Carson lived in a fine old three story 
residence at the northwest corner of Orange and Tradd streets. 
From the 'News and Courier^ July 6, 1885, is extracted: It was 
built of black cypress and one of the best houses in Charleston 
more than a century ago. The lot occupied about half the 
block on Tradd street. It was the property of John Stuart, the 
Indian agent of his Majesty in the Southern provinces. Here 
was born his son. General Sir John Stuart, who afterwards dis- 

'James Louts Petigru 225 

tinguished himself by defeating the French troops in Calabria, 
and was knighted for his gallantry. The Beaufort family of 
Stuarts are descended from a brother of John Stuart. 

The house came into the possession of James Carson in 1805, 
and years afterwards it was known as "the headquarters of the 
Corner Club, " a coterie of old ladies who were mostly widows, 
whist-players, tea-drinkers, and talkers. 


Charleston, 23d March, 1843. 
My dear Jane: 

Our poor friend Dr. North is to be buried at 5 this afternoon. 
His death was surprisingly sudden. In my last interview with 
him (which was at Gray's) he was more serious than usual, but 
I attributed it to the business on which we met, which was the 
sale of Gen. Hamilton's plantation, in which he was interested 
to the extent of 20,000 dollars, Mrs. North's money, which the 
Gen. borrowed. He has left no will. This is a hardship to 
poor Emily, who is quite unprovided for. I had great doubts 
after poor Thurston's death, whether we ought not to return to 
Mrs. Thurston the 900 dollars, that he gave to the girls and 
which is in my name as Trustee. But I did not propose it then, 
on the ground that the Doctor would make it up to her. As 
that expectation has failed, I do not doubt my sister, that you 
will concur with me in thinking that the best thing I can do is to 
transfer those shares which have never been touched and which 
are the proceeds of this gift to his family. * * * 

So is life checkered — today a funeral and this day week a 
wedding.* It is time to go to the funeral and I will close this 
after my return. The relations are to meet at the church. 
There never was more sympathy evinced by the public than 
they feel for the Doctor. The number of his patients assembled 
in Archdale Street to pay the last tribute to his memory, was 
beyond what I expected, and one would have thought that the 
coloured people felt that they had lost a friend from the con- 
course that was there. Everybody speaks of his amenity, his 
easy, agreeable manners and the freedom from the least dispo- 
sition to wound anybody's self love. In personal popularity, he 
has probably not left his equal in the whole State. * * * 

My new vow is to dine at the office, and it is a fact I make my 
dinner on herring, some salad and rice. Sometimes (indeed 
today) I break through the rules by spinage with egg, 
and I have a bit of roast on Sundav. It is the first time I have 

*0f his daughter Susan. 

226 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

set about keeping Lent and I think I will hereafter adhere to it. 
Love to Mary and little Louise and am dear Jane, 

Your Brother. 

On April 3d, 1843, the following notice appeared in the Charles- 
ton Courier: 

Married on Thursday, 30th of March, by the Reverend Paul 
Trapier — Henry C. King to Susan, youngest daughter of James 
L. Petigru, Esq. 

Henry C. King was the third son of Mr. Petigru's friend Judge 
Mitchell King. After being educated in Germany he read law 
in the office of Mr. Petigru and in 1851 was taken into the firm. 
He was a man more noted for his manliness, kindness of heart 
and geniality than for ambition to shine in his profession, being 
overshadowed by the brilliancy of his partner. He was an 
extremely good lawyer, but seldom appeared in court, and de- 
voted himself to the details of the office. Many of the students 
used to say that they learned much more law from him than they 
ever did from Mr. Petigru. He was killed while in command of 
his company at the battle of Secessionville, on James Island. 


April 23, 1843. 
I have had much trouble in Court. The great case of Jewell 
& Jewell was to be tried and with a heavy heart I entered into a 
cause in the justice of which I have full confidence and scarcely 
a hope of success. Things went on worse and worse till I came 
to the resolution to take a non-suit and commence again in the 
State Court. But it made me sick and I believe I suffered for a 
time more by losing the case than I did by losing all I was worth, 
something over a year ago. * * * Mr. Legare is here on a 
short visit, and if there is any change in him it is for the better. 
He came into my office yesterday just as I had received a letter 
from the new collector of Savannah, Colonel Myers, telling me 
he would remove "John Postell because he was a Whig." I 
showed the letter to him and he immediately wrote not only to 
the collector, but to the Secretary of the Treasury in terms of 
earnestness which I think will save poor John from the uplifted 
axe. I think when Ma comes to hear of this trait she will find 
Mr. Legare very much raised in her estimation. 


Columbia, 11 May, 1843. 
I believe you are in George Street dear Sue, because that was 

'James Louis Petigru Til 

your intention and besides it is told me by Mr. King, and I hope 
your good behaviour will be equal to the kind reception which 
your allies have given you. I have often said that I should be 
as much chagrined to turn a bad wife out of my nursery, as to 
send a student from the office to be rejected. But it is not to be 
supposed that my feelings are expressed by the comparison. 
When I consider what a sweet child you were, so docile, so gentle 
and so lively, as to get the imputation of being Pa's pet, I can 
not doubt that your better feelings will resume the ascendant 
and that you will place your love of distinction upon the doing 
of what is right. If one is to be proud of any thing, it should be 
of self control, and of acting well. Even if one had no instinc- 
tive love of excellence, and was to form one's behaviour with 
reference only to the enjoyment of the greatest degree of satis- 
faction, it would be one's interest to consult in the first place the 
happiness of those who are influenced by one's way of conduct- 
ing. The proof of this is seen in the effect, which politeness has 
on those who are attentive to its rules. For politeness is nothing 
more than habitual consideration for the feelings of those we 
converse with and the making it a rule never to give ourselves the 
preference. Yet every one may see that those persons, whose 
good breeding leads them to consult the feelings of others, enjoy 
far more consideration than if they showed by their manners 
that their object was to gratify themselves. And that which is 
true in the lesser morals, is also true in the great virtues. For, as 
they that give themselves the preference, are most apt to be 
slighted, so, those who do not cultivate the virtues of justice and 
benevolence, can not enjoy their own minds in peace. The 
things, which make one worthy of the esteem of others are the 
same which secure to us our own esteem, without which life can 
scarcely be tolerable. The instances which come under our own 
eyes of persons who, after tormenting others, become like poor 
Mrs. McRee, their own executioners and go mad from sheer ill 
nature and peevishness, should speak a terrible warning to all 
that are sensible of any infirmity of temper. I confess my dear 
Sue, that I was grieved when I heard you some days ago, under 
the influence of a slight vexation, express pleasure in the pros- 
pect of giving poor Anne Deas as much trouble as you could in 
the alterations of the dress which displeased you. I had not the 
opportunity then of letting you know the painful impression 
this made on me, and tho' she is a humble individual and T dare 
say you did not in fact use your power to annoy her, my affec- 
tion was wounded by a momentary display of a feeling that ren- 
dered you less worthy of esteem. Perhaps the homily is too 
long, but I would rather say many words after the occasion of 
offense is past, than run the risk of irritating the ebulition that 
I regretted. I have just got a letter from your mother. And 
oh, such a letter! Sally Ford comes in for her full share, because 

228 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

unfortunately, I wrote while she was in the house, that we would 
miss her when she went away. I came here sick and was so a 
week, but I am well now. It is rather an idle life that we are 
leading here and unprofitable. The Dowager has just written 
to me that she will be here on Saturday, and stay till Monday. 
If green trees and trim gardens make town life agreeable, Colum- 
bia has a fair claim to the friendship of its visitors. Indeed, I 
think it, in spite of all college associations, a very pretty place; 
at the same time one must confess it is rather a dull one. Our 
friend Nathan Davis is here a practitioner of the law, and as it 
is said, an admirer of Miss Kate Hampton, but, from what I 
heard at Mr. Hampton's, where I spent last Sunday, I am rather 
of opinion that the Reciprocity is all on one side. Adieu dear 
Sue, my parental salutations attend on you and Henry. 

Your Father. 

P. S. — Your watch has done marvelously well. Till yesterday 
it went like a soldier on drill. At present it has taken a start and 
is a full hour ahead of every watch in town. I don't think I will 
be home for a week. 

Oration at Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, June 28, 1844 

From the Charleston Courier^ July 4, 1 844. 

History is justly entitled to the first place in the list of human 
sciences. The future is unknown, and the present bounded by 
the very narrow circle of our senses; but the past is an immense 
field, where every faculty finds employment, and from which 
both old and young obtain the instruction by which reason is 
invigorated and judgement is matured. Happy are they who 
can profit by the experience of others — happy are the people 
who can appeal to their own history for examples of virtue 
and models of imitation. Nor is every people so distinguished. 
For when we look back to the beginning of history, some 
few ages stand out in bold relief; but far the greater part of the 
past, undistinguished by the broad expanse, is hid from our 
view by a veil as deep as that which hangs over futurity. It is 
not everywhere, nor in every age that men have risen to the 
distinction of furnishing to after times an incentive to virtue in 
the honor connected with their names. But to a people who 
possess a history illustrated by the virtues of their ancestors, no 
duty can be more agreeable than the preservation of their ances- 
tral fame. In all ages pilgrims have repaired with pious zeal 
to the cradle of religion and have felt their faith confirmed, and 
their hearts warmed and purified by the contemplation of scenes 
and objects connected with sacred history. 

Nor is it less natural to mingle the sentiments of patriotism 

James Louis Petigru 229 

with those of reverence and admiration, and to recur with a 
fond pride to the times and places rendered memorable by the 
toils or the triumphs of our countrymen. Such is the sentiment 
which leads the inhabitants of Sullivan's Island to celebrate this 
day. Nor is the ground on which we stand devoid of the inter- 
est belonging to historical associations. For we tread the scene 
where a great action passed away — and we breathe the air 
where Moultrie, sixty-eight years ago, stood to meet the invader 
on the threshold of his country. Even this barren Isle, scarcely 
raised above the margin of the sea, with its shore washed by the 
tides, and its heaps of sand driven by the wind, becomes an 
object of interest from the associations of this day. And the 
ground that we survey, little distinguished as it may seem to the 
eye, crowned by no lofty forests, nor adorned with fields of wav- 
ing grain, when viewed by the glass of history has more charms 
for the reflecting mind than many a fertile field. For here, as to 
a solemn judgment, came the men of Carolina, to submit the 
cause of freedom to the God of battles; and here, by indulgent 
heaven, was granted to humanity that victory of native virtue 
over mercenary discipline, which adds another glorious page to 
the record of Salamis and Marathon. 

Nor is it easy to overrate the importance of this action. It 
was one of the earliest events of the struggle and had an immense 
influence on the opinions of men concerning the issue of the con- 
troversy. This was, as far as America was concerned, essentially 
a war of opinion, it was an issue between the people and their 
rulers — it was a trial between the new world and the old — a 
question between the natural privileges of men and the pre- 
scriptive rights of those who had long controlled their destinies. 
The nationality of the United States was a new term, and the 
establishment of a popular government was a work that had no 
recent examples. Ages had passed away since any successful 
opposition had been made by popular combination against the 
discipline and resources of established governments. The name 
of a republic had almost disappeared from the world, and the 
pretentions of America to an equality with Europe were till then 
unheard. The nations of the earth seemed to have settled upon 
certain principles, embracing a gradation of ranks, as essential 
to social order, and their governments, by modern improve- 
ments in the arts of peace and war, had increased beyond 
all former example, their power of maintaining order and repres- 
sing opposition. The great powers of England, France and 
Spain had divided the new world among them, and ruled over 
America by the general acquiescence of mankind. To disturb 
received opinions, to deny the throne, or to question the right of 
European ascendency, seemed not only rash, but unnatural. It 
was at such a time that a voice from America asserting the great 
principles of justice, broke upon the drowsy ear of the world. 

230 ^(/^j Letters and Speeches 

It is not within the scope of this occasion to enter into the con- 
troversy between England and the Colonies. And it is less 
important to do so, as the cause of the quarrel may be easily 
separated from the circumstances by which it was provoked. 
There was an inevitable tendency to separation and probably it 
was not in human prudence to avoid a catastrophe which the 
progress of events conspired to bring about. England was then, 
as now, the most vigorous, the most progressive, and the most 
uniformly successful of the European powers. The spirit ot her 
freedom and enterprise was reflected on her colonies; and they 
had advanced in prosperity and civilization beyond the example 
of any dependent people. But these circumstances, however 
calculated to mislead a superficial observer, as promising a last- 
ing connection between the metropolis and the colony, were in 
fact so many causes of an approaching rupture. The prosperity 
of the colonies, as it fitted them then for a separate nationality, 
rendered their dependence on a transatlantic power every day 
more and more inadequate to their wants. It may well be doubted 
whether any regulations of policy could have reconciled the con- 
nection much longer with the true interests of either party. The 
parallel between the State and the individual, in this, as in so 
many other cases, suggests an instructive lesson. The same law 
by which the individual passes from youth to manhood, termin- 
ates the period of parental control. And the Colony, by the 
development of the resources of a nation, is compelled by the 
law of self-defense to the assumption of national rights. It was 
not merely that the arrogance or injustice of a government, at 
the distance of three thousand miles, provoked or justified resis- 
tance, but that no connection could be maintained unless upon 
terms of subordination; and that such subordination was no 
longer in conformity with the true relations between the coun- 
tries. The division of the earth into separate independent 
communities is essential to the plan of Providence in the consti- 
tution of human society. It is impossible for the world to be 
united under one government, and every country must be 
responsible for its own institutions. The subjection of any 
country to the authority of strangers, is a yoke which none but 
the weak will bear. It was a noble feeling which the people of 
America partook with all generous minds, when they determined 
to assume an independent station with full knowledge of all the 
burthens and sacrifices that such a measure implies. And the 
self devotion and gallantry, with which the men of Carolina 
lined the walls of Fort Moultrie were an earnest of the sincerity 
of their professions, and a pledge of their fitness for freedom. 
Like that of Bunker Hill, this action preceded the formal decla- 
ration of independence, and like it too in the result, the courage 
and constancy of the sons of America were thereby proved by 
the din of battle to be equal to their pretentions; and the repulse 

James Louis Petigru 231 

of Sir Peter Parker's Squadron, by an inexperienced garrison, 
before a feeble fort, united the men of Massachusetts and Caro- 
lina by the baptism of fire, in the holy name of country, men and 
brothers. Of the particulars that combined to render this tri- 
umph of our arms a just source of pride, it is unnecessary to 
speak, for they are as familiar to us as the lessons of infancy. 
Nor is there any fear that the heroic daring of the chief, who 
scorned the cautious advice of abandoning a position deemed 
untenable, and resolved to defend the fort or be buried in its 
ruins, will be lost upon the youth of our country or that the 
gallantry of the men who so nobly seconded his zeal will be 
allowed to fade from their recollections. 

Nor is it necessary to dwell on the long series of seven bloody 
years, through which the country passed, before the consum- 
mation of the patriot's hope was crowned by independence. It 
is not for lessons in the strategy of armies or the arts of war that 
the history of this eventful period should be read. Other nations 
have known how to set armies in the field, and by what means to 
shake the defense of cities, or overwhelm the destined victim 
with mingled storm of battle. But the history of the American 
war furnishes other lessons, replete with knowledge more con- 
soling to mankind. From the records of that period humanity 
may learn confidence, and patriots trust in the native virtue of 
the people. 

The trials through which the people of America had to pass 
were sharp and painful. Of these trials her soldiers bore the 
brunt. The hardships of war were aggravated by the want of 
magazines, of forts, of ships, of regular commissariats, and all the 
material which enters into the exercise of the soldier's calling. 

Nor was it only of inadequate supplies that they had to com- 
plain, but all these defects were rendered more intolerable by a 
civil organization too imperfect to direct efficiently the opera- 
tions of war. Scanty means were rendered still more inadequate 
by the weakness of the civil government. Against these and 
such evils they had one compensation in the Spirit of the 
American people. Nor even did that element of power more 
nobly vindicate its energy in asserting the superiority of mind 
over matter. By public spirit the States were held together, 
and the people suffered without despair. Huge armaments and 
ponderous trains of artillery, with obedient hosts of mercenaries, 
may overrun a country and spread desolation far and wide; and 
like Xerxes, the master of myriads, glittering in the panoply of 
war may deem his hosts invincible, but like all material agents 
their sphere is limited; they feel the wear and tear of time, they 
are exposed to the casualties of fortune, and by the ocean waves 
or winter frosts they are scattered or dispersed. The armies of 
England were numerous and well appointed, and fell upon the 
several points of attack as easy prey. But the indomitable 

232 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

spirit of the people was progressive and indestructible. New- 
recruits supplied the waste of war. Years rolled on and the 
clang of arms that had roused the sire and called him from his 
plow, still rang in the ears of a new generation, ready and willing 
to swell the same martial din. Yorktown saw the pride of the 
invader humbled, and the final triumph of the American arms 
was followed by the acknowledgment of the Independence of 
the United States. 

But military fame constitutes the least part of the honor due 
to the soldiers of America. War, after all, is the reign of vio- 
lence and violence is the scourge of the human race. But it 
is the peculiar glory of that army which bore the brunt of this 
sharp contest, that when the war was over, they laid aside with 
the sword the love of war— and with peace resumed the peaceful 
arts in the retirement of private life. Honored in all times be 
that Patriot soldiery who served a bleeding country in all its 
privations, and bore the delay even of the modest recompense 
due to their toils, with the fortitude of the soldier and the 
modesty of the citizen. What are the boasted triumphs of those 
who have dyed the earth in blood, compared with the fame of 
that army, which after a successful war, laid down their arms 
before their own claims were satisfied.^ That a stable govern- 
ment, with the resources arising from a perfect command of the 
civil force, should raise and disband troops at their pleasure, is 
the common privilege of a well governed State. But this was a 
Revolutionary army, enlisted, not in the name of obedience, but 
of resistance to the established Authority. An army which had 
made all the sacrifices of a hard service without the emoluments 
of the camp — which had felt the steel of the enemy without 
feeling the cares of a Government intent on the supply of their 
wants. They had by their arms, set up the civil power that 
now disposed of their claims to justice. Every selfish feeling 
prompted them to take justice into their own hands, and the 
most plausible arguments were at hand to excuse the step. 
They were organized, and the weakness of the Government 
required an infusion of energy. The State stood in need of 
reformation and their wrongs cried aloud for justice. How 
easy in such circumstances to cover ambitious designs under 
the cloak of the public good. To their everlasting honor they 
resisted the temptation and imposed on themselves a forbearance 
without example. With arms in their hands, they submitted to 
the civil authority, as men who had no weapons but persuasion. 
So rare an instance of duty has deservedly raised the character 
of military men and made them, in this country, objects, not of 
jealousy, but of popular regard. But such moderation could 
only be expected from men under the most enlightened influence, 
and is accounted for by the preeminent character of their leader. 
They trusted in Washington and set the seal to the gratitude of 

James Louis Petigru 233 

posterity, by yielding an implicit obedience to his counsel and 
example. A nation may well be proud of military fame; but the 
character of Washington has added to the estimation of man- 
kind, and forms part of the inheritance of the human race. We 
may boast of the valor of our troops, but submission to the law 
and respect for the liberties of their country, are the crowning 
glory of the patriot army that fought the battle of independence. 
They laid no sacrilegious hand upon the arc of liberty, and 
showed themselves formidable only to the enemies of their 

The example of the army was well calculated to increase the 
joy with which the return of peace was hailed, and to inspire a 
hope that the reign of justice had commenced. But peace had 
its dangers; the authority of the law was inadequate to the pres- 
ervation of the public defence; and the Government was neither 
able to obtain nor to enforce justice. The task was still incom- 
plete, and many doubts and fears were still to be overcome 
before the fair temple of beauty could be reared upon the soil of 
Columbia. Hitherto, Liberty was resistance, and her cause was 
the law of the strongest. But now Liberty was to be made an 
institution, and freedom reconciled with power. And although, 
to the generality of mankind, dazzled with show, and inattentive 
to the silent causes, which, in the moral as in the natural world, 
bring about the order and harmony of things, the organization of 
a community may seem to be easy, yet to the reasoning mind no 
enterprise is so arduous. Too long, indeed, have men been 
accustomed to pay unbounded homage to those abilities that are 
most conspicuous in the service of selfish ambition. But when 
civilization shall have more widely diffused its benignant sway, 
they will learn to reserve their highest praise for those whose 
labors are most eminently conducive to the happiness of man- 
kind. Who will compare the bloody laurels of the conqueror 
with the mild lustre that surrounds the brow of the magistrate, 
who gives law to mankind or hesitate to postpone the boisterous 
orator, or keen politician to the simple and modest student of 
nature, who has so recently enriched the human family with the 
present of the magnetic telegraph? What does it signify that 
men have fought and bled, and signalized the bloody arena of 
their toils by great exhibitions of moral or physical strength, if 
the result has been barren of any real good or solid benefit to 
society? But they who have developed the resources of their 
country, who have increased the amount of rational and innocent 
enjoyment or diminished the evils of human life, are justly hailed 
as the benefactors and fathers of mankind. And who so justly 
entitled to this distinction as those who have bestowed on their 
country by wise institutions, the permanent blessings of justice? 
In this class the great men of America are entitled to distin- 
guished place, and we may celebrate this anniversary not merely 

234 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

with the honors due to a brilliant feat of arms, but as the open- 
ing of a new and better state of things. For when the toils of 
war were over, the American people dedicated the liberty which 
they had won to the noble purpose of establishing among them 
for generations the blessings of freedom, justice and equality of 
rights. By this result the true value of liberty is known, and by 
the success of the Federal Constitution the real amount of good 
obtained by American Independence must in the end be esti- 
mated. For liberty is but a name, where the weak are not pro- 
tected against the strong, nor justice armed with the power of 
defending the innocent, and punishing the guilty — and it is here 
that experience warns us of the rocks on which men in pursuit of 
liberty have so often split, and calls on us to admire and main- 
tain the work of the Authors of the Constitution. To reconcile 
the greatest degree of freedom with the perfect security of pri- 
vate and natural rights, has baffled the skill of the wisest of man- 
kind. For who shall control where all are equal, or how shall 
the people restrain the will of the people? 

To accomplish a work to which the wise might look with 
despair; to give to the world an example of a Republic that might 
recall the glories of that proud name in ancient times without 
admitting the elements of discord which so often shook the frame 
of those celebrated states; to emulate the vigor of those ancient 
commonwealths without impairing the safety and sanctity of 
private rights, so essential to modern civilization — these were 
the generous aspirations of the men of the revolution, and the 
consummation of that great struggle, to the memory of which 
we dedicate this day. 

To build up a system on the principles of natural justice might 
seem to be an easy task — but like the imitation of nature, it 
requires the highest degree of skill and most elaborate work- 
manship. To this task the fathers of American Liberty brought 
the result of all their experience and long reflection upon the 
eventful scenes through which they had passed. In the union 
of the States they found a principle that answered to their wants. 
On that principle they rested their plan. On the Union of the 
States they laid the foundation of national defence and the 
guards of civil liberty, making it at once the means of develop- 
ing all the resources of the nation and of restraining the exercise 
of the civil force. They made a partition of Sovereignty, and 
assigned limits to the competency of the several governments 
between which it is divided. As to the best distribution of 
power between the States and the General Government — and 
the degree in which control should be exercised by either, opin- 
ions may differ, and the distinction forms a line by which parties 
will naturally divide. But that such a partition should take 
place, and that the principle is admirably adapted to the main- 
tenance of that equilibrium, ever so essential in the State, 

James Louis Petigru 235 

between the power of government and the liberty of those who 
are governed, can be denied by no one who has comprehended 
the subject. Nor should we cease to express our gratitude and 
to adore the goodness of Providence, which placed in our hands 
an instrument of peace and order, which human ingenuity could 
not have devised. For unless the States had existed in fact, it 
would have been impossible to create them for the purpose. 
Had the Mother Country looked to the establishment of empires 
and kingdoms, and British America presented a unit of govern- 
ment like Canada or Mexico, no human power by artificial lines, 
or positive rules, could have made communities with the attri- 
butes of sovereign and independent states where none rested. 
And if the several states had retained their separate nationality 
no constitution would have been an effectual guard against vio- 
lations of right. In such states there could be no barrier between 
a dominant majority and the object which they mean to effect. 
A constitution is in fact intended to restrain the majority; but 
as the people are sovereign and equal, the will of the majority 
must be paramount, and no constitution can transcend the 
sovereign power from which it emanates: but under the control 
of the Federal Constitution there is no absolute sovereignty, and 
neither the whole people nor the people of any particular State 
have more than a limited dominion. By this union of the States 
the independence of America was crowned with liberty and order 
and long may it be impressed on the mind of every citizen that 
the preservation of the union is the life of liberty. Nor can any 
man give a test of his sentiments as a citizen and lover of free- 
dom better than this, that he who loves the union really loves his 

But does that country deserve our love? Is there in the 
result enough to justify the pains, the cares, the sacrifices made, 
and the blood poured out for the prize of American independence ? 
Let this question be answered not according to the dictates of an 
idle vanity, but by a sober and dispassionate consideration of the 
circumstances on which that answer should depend. That form 
of government, which in the highest degree develops the virtues 
and talents of society, and conduces most to the advancement of 
its members as a people, in all that gives dignity and elevation of 
character to the individual in knowledge, in morals, in the arts 
of peace and the virtues that ensure success in war, best fulfils 
the order and design of Providence in the organization of society. 
And for a government that fulfils these conditions no sacrifice is 
too great. May we not venture with a modest confidence to 
submit to this test the pretensions of our country .f* 

Far from us be the sordid and ignoble thought that self-indul- 
gence is the end and aim of liberty. It is in the generous pur- 
suit of all that is good and great, in improving the earth and in 
converting nature to the service of man, in cherishing justice, 

236 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

and respecting the laws, the human and divine, that a people 
must, like the individual, employ their liberty to know its value. 
Such was he, our countryman, who, alas, too early for us, but 
not for his fame, closed, but a year ago this scene of mortal life. 
No more shall we kindle in the glow which so often warmed the 
heart, when some great theme was touched by his genius, in the 
forum or the senate. And now on this solemn day when we 
recall the illustrious deeds of Moultrie, Pinckney and Marion, 
let us not begrudge a tear to the memory of Legare, who illus- 
trated in his life, that the republic is the nurse of genius; who 
loved his country with the ardor that republics only can inspire, 
and who by his eloquence, could so well portray the immense 
value of the gifts conferred upon us by the liberty and union of 


Charleston, 10th July, 1843. 
* * * The rumor, that I was offered the place of Attorney 
General, is groundless. It would have been very improper, for 
I am not of Mr. Tyler's party, and would not accept the place, 
even if my friends were in power, as it is too late in the day to be 
pleased with an office, that would be a proper subject of ambi- 
tion to a much younger man. Tho' it seems very wonderful 
that Sue does not write to you, it is a wonder that will decrease 
as you grow older, and when you have improved your under- 
standing with 30 years of study and reflexion, you will feel more 
gratitude for being remembered sometimes, than surprise at 
finding of how little importance an individual is. We have lost 
Mr. Lowndes, who died on the 8th, after fulfilling his duties to 
all the world, and having attained the age of 78. You did not 
enclose the tailor's bill as you seemed to intend to do, and I don't 
send the money by this mail, because it is not convenient, but 
will do so in good time. I suppose his prices are adapted to a 
little delay. Sue has been with us on the Island since we moved, 
which was the 29th ult. * * * 

When William C. Preston returned from Washington (after 
his defeat for the United States Senate) the very small but highly 
respectable Whig party in Charleston (of which Mr. Petigru and 
Judge Bryan were the head) determined to receive him with 
applause. Mr. Preston had been elected to the Senate as a 
Nullifier and he returned as a Henry Clay Whig. The reception 
given him was helped out by Democrats. Mr. Pope tells the 
story of the occasion: The meeting was held at what was then 
known as the old theatre in Broad Street. The speakers on the 

James Louis Petigru 237 

occasion were Mr. Petigru, Mr. Legare and Mr. Preston. It was 
equivalent to a liberal education and an event in one's life. Mr. 
Preston spoke first and his speech was an elegant indication of 
his political course. 

" Mr. Legare, who was expecting to be called into Mr, Tyler's 
cabinet, spoke second, and it goes without saying that this speech 
was superbly elegant. Mr. Petigru spoke last and he beat them 
both. His wit, humor and wealth of anecdotes bore off the 
palm. I remember after more than forty years the glittering 
shaft that he hurled at Mr. Calhoun, who on his way to Wash- 
ington a short time before had received a grand welcome and 
ovation during his stay in the city. I remember his utterance 
word for word: 'This dear old State of ours reminds me of a 
refined, rich, fat, lazy old planter who took his wine at dinner 
and his nap in the afternoon. He employed an overseer of un- 
surpassed abilities and turned over the management of the large 
estates to him. One morning the planter woke up and found 
the overseer master of the plantation.' Thus he proceeded to 
the end amid uproars of laughter and rounds of applause." 

238 ^ijsy Letters and Speeches 



Ball in Honor of Mr. Clay; Election of Governor 
Aiken; Mr. Hoar 


St. Michael's Alley, 2d April, 1844. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * After we had a management agreed on for a ball at 
Easter it turned out that Mr. Clay would be here this week, 
and to my surprise they announced Thursday evening for the 
festival. I endeavored on Saturday to change their determina- 
tion, but it really put me in mind of the nullifiers, when the popu- 
lar indignation exploded against the unjust and tyrannical impo- 
sition on their liberties was named. The clergy launched their 
anathema against the entertainment on Sunday, and the Bishop 
has addressed to his people an allocution on the occasion. As 
usual, the opposition has inflamed the friends of the ball, Whigs 
and Democrats, to the highest degree and no doubt it will be 
the most popular ball ever given in the city since Gen. Lafayette. 
The opposition is nearly as strong among the Episcopalians as 
anybody else; so I judge from W. B. Pringle's conversation, 
who tells me that he considers this only another attempt of the 
clergy to tyrannize over the laity. I don't think so myself, and 
tell them that there is a great difi^erence between rigid obedience 
and gross contempt. For there could be no greater contempt 
of discipline of the Church than the converting of a day of mourn- 
ing into one of revelry and feasting. Robertson and Mills as 
well as myself retired from the connexion with the ball, and no 
others. * * * 

Your Brother. 

P. S. — This is written with many interruptions as you may 
see by the blots. Between friends a blotted letter is a mark of 
confidence, so says one of the greatest masters of the epistolary 
style in his journal to Stella. 


July 8, 1844. 

* * * I suppose you have seen my oration in the Courier 
— the first two impressions were badly printed — the last which 

James Louis Petigru 239 

was in the paper of the 4th, is correctly done. They have paid 
me a good many compliments about it here, but the highest was 
that of my old friend, Dr. Palmer,* who characterized it as a 
judicious discourse, that with a little alteration would make a 
capital sermon. 


September 30, 1844. 
* * * Mr. Calhoun is here. He came this morning. I 
have not been to see him and don't intend. It is said he brings 
encouragement to his friends and tells them Polk will be elected. 
The contest in Georgia will be very close. I hope our friends 
will succeed, but thev will pass through a narrow place if they 


November 10, 1844. 
We are in the midst of the election. The most contradictory 
reports come every day, and will do so probably for two or three 
days more, concerning New York. Whigs and Democrats are 
both dejected. It is said large sums are bet and the bettors will 
enjoy all the excitement of suspense. * * * The excitement 
is intense, and well it may be, for in the whole history of the 
country the President's chair was never disputed in such a 
regular stand-up fight before. 


December 3, 1844. 
I told Mrs. Smithf that I understood her brother (Sully, the 
artist) was going to Tennessee to take a likeness of Mrs. Polk. 
She had not heard of it. He had written to her, she said, that 
he was at least out of the turmoil of the election. She asked, 
"He says he is a Whig. Do tell me what that is?" I explained 
as well as I could and she then declared that she believed that 
she was one too. 


December 16, 1844. 
I think we are out of luck for candidates. Our friend, Allston, 
got but twenty-four votes, yet they stuck to him through four 
ballots; Buchanan had thirty-one. His friends divided between 

*Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, a great divine of his day. Pastor of the Cir- 
cular or Congregational Church, Charleston, S. C, for twenty years. 
tShe was the daughter of Sully the actor, and eloped with Middleton Smith. 

240 ^?/^, Letters and Speeches 

Aiken and Seabrook* who were the highest candidates. But I 
suppose you have seen the papers by this time. Seabrook is 
excessively mortified. He came here breathing revenge; says 
it was carried by corruption. That seems to be in some measure 
believed. What is certain is that Aiken is making all sorts of 
expense. He has emptied every cellar in Columbia and sent to 
town for more champagne * * * and it is supposed he will 
make King street run with wine when he comes to town. 

There is a capital story about Boyce, who was persuading 
Haigler, the St. Matthew's member, to vote for Aiken. Haigler 
thought he ought to support the agricultural interests and Sea- 
brook was the planters' candidate, but Boyce told him that true 
Seabrook was a learned man and wrote a great deal about plant- 
ing and that it was all very fine, but that he was a theatrical 
planter. Everybody says that it was truth, and Seabrook 
himself tells it and does not see that they laugh at Boyce and him 

The proceedings in regard to Mr. Hoarf are very scandalous. 
Nothing is so fatal as to make the plea of necessity too cheap. 
Necessity has no law; therefore, against all law they drive the 
old man out of the State. But when you ask for the evidence, of 
necessity it is plain that it means nothing but popular clamour. 
The idea that the questioning of the constitutionality of those 
laws about negroes coming into the State is dangerous to public 
tranquility is a mere figment. Only last May I had one of the 
provisions of that same law declared unconstitutional in Mrs. 
Kohne's case. If the Association was to take it in dudgeon they 
might have said it was necessary to have me deported, with as 
much reason, and Calhoun's miserable homilies on the advan- 
tages of slavery have just about the same significance. Aiken's 
proclamation of a Thanksgiving on the 9th is for the Jews, 
whom Hammond omitted in his proclamation. 

*Whitmarsh Benjamin Seabrook, Governor, 1848. 

tOn account of the agitation of the abolitionists, the legislature of South Caro- 
lina early in 1844 passed the DeTreville resolution which forbid the entrance 
of free negroes into South Carolina. A vessel from Boston arrived at Charles- 
ton; the steward and cook being free negroes were immediately put in prison; — 
Mr. Sherman Hoar, a lawyer of Boston, was sent by the Government of Massa- 
chusetts to Charleston to protect their rights. A riot ensued which was quieted by 
the interference of some of the more respectable citizens. — Charleston Courier, 
Dec. 5, 1844. 

James Louis Petigru 241 



Mesmerism; Life Mask; White Sulphur Springs; Mr. Clay; 
Philadelphia; New York 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

January 27th, 1845. 

* * * The case of the Rice Hope sale is to be argued 
to-morrow. I do not engage in the argument, but have engaged 
Mr. Preston to come down here for that purpose. I don't think 
there is any doubt of the result. 


May 20th, 1845. 

* * ''^ I have told the Captain [his brother Tom] the great 
news that the sale of Rice Hope is set aside, and I am relieved 
of the oppressive burthen of paying, or rather of never paying, 
those two bonds of Mrs. Timothy and Barbara Barquet, which 
were to come upon me if the sale made in January, 1844, had 
stood. It is strange that there should ever have been a doubt 
on the subject, viz: That it was unlawful for Mr. Memminger 
and Mr. Gourdin to agree not to bid against one another and to 
divide the gain that might be made by that means among their 
clients, to the injury of that part of the General's creditors that 
were not in the secret. But after Chancellor Harper had affirmed 
the sale and I had got Mr. Preston to argue the case and the 
Court of Appeals had not only hesitated, but showed a strong 
tendency to confirm the decree, it was time to be alarmed. 
Thank God it is over and I breathe free again. 

From the foregoing it is inferred that Mr. Petigru must have 
indorsed bonds of Gen. Hamilton's to Mr. Barquet and that Rice 
Hope was part of his assets. 


May 20, 1845. 
Sister [his wife] is the eighth wonder of the world. She is 
getting well. She walks up and down stairs, goes out every 
afternoon to ride and does not talk of sickness. Yet, after all, 

242 J^ije^ Letters and Speeches 

it seems to me that she is indebted to the force of imagination 
for a great part of the virtue of mesmerism. When it comes to 
be understood, and therefore no longer creates awe and wonder, 
the number of cures effected by its agency, if I am right, will 
very much diminish. * * * Tell the Captain that he ought 
by no means to suffer these new sloops of war to be fitted 
out and given to younger officers. I hope he will show a due 
tenacity for his rights according to his rank in the navy. Though 
it would sadden my visit to Abbeville if he is not there, yet 
better forego pleasure than honor. * * * j h^ve been sleepy 
all day, and before you are done this letter you may find that it 
is catching. 


Charleston, 27th May, 1845. 
My dear Jane: 

Yours of the 24th was very welcome, and I enjoyed again the 
pleasure of success in your lively feelings of gratulation. I 
believe the case has made no little noise. In the Greenville 
Mountaineer an account of it is given in glowing terms by a 
correspondent of the editor, which would have been read with 
pleasure but for a singular typographical blunder: Lord Cowden 
instead of Lord Camden. The Captain is right about the Ham- 
iltons; they are quite delighted with the judgment, but he does 
them injustice in supposing that it is on account of their design 
to emigrate to Texas. On the contrary, they are still anxious to 
own the place, but they could not hope to do so with any satis- 
faction, as long as it was connected with an act of injustice to 
Mr. Arthur Middleton and me. Such injustice would have 
partaken of the disgrace of treachery. Thus power, while it 
renders men callous to some reproaches of conscience, keeps them 
alive to other moral impressions, when they involve the senti- 
ment of fidelity to a friend. Poor Barquet and Timothy might 
have whistled for their money if they had had no other depen- 
dence than their debtor's sense of legal or moral obligation to 
pay them. * * * 

Sister continues an example of the maxim that while there is 
life there is hope. She walks up and down the stairs like a kid; 
the only drawback to this pleasure is that she has an uncontrol- 
lable passion to talk to everybody about mesmerism. I presume 
that the shopkeepers in King Street must be edified by it, as she 
takes her rides regularly in that direction. 

Poor John Huger, son of John, died two days ago; he is the 
greatest loss the family could have met with, being a man of 
business and activity with good judgment. His poor old father 
is broken up by it. Mr. Ogelby* is going to leave us after 15 

*The British Consul. 


James Louis Petigru 243 

years' residence. I will write to our Irish cousin by him, but 
I fear cousin Margaret has paid the debt of nature; it is 5 years 
since we have heard from her. We will move to the Island in 
about a fortnight. The weather still continues very dry and 
Carson's crop is as good as lost. This is doubly unfortunate, 
because our poor Caroline ought to go to somewhere besides the 
Island: the glare of that place is the worst thing imaginable for 
her eyes. Sue has been a constant and considerate friend in 
these her protracted troubles, and Martha Kinloch is now in 
town and devotes a great deal of her time to her. 

Tell the Captain I have not seen the Commodore but will 
write to him after I have. This letter is begun wrong, and of 
course will be good for nothing; it is a pity, because it will be 
charged with the high duties now paid on letters. After 1st 
June it will make less difference, because a dull letter will cost 
but little. I am glad to hear that you have a promise of a crop, 
and I hope I shall be able to stroll with you over the same hills 
and be interested again in the same small interests before the 
summer has left us. The weather has been surprisingly cool 
for a few days. We were expecting rain but the cold came in 
place of it. I have heard nothing from Capt. Bowman yet of 
our stone foundation. Adieu, my dear sister, I embrace Mary 
and the girls and am. 

Your affectionate Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

July 5, 1845. 
I am ashamed that I send nothing by them [Guilfoyle and 
Shannon] except this and a plaster cast of the head of a person 
you know.* It was done by the same person who went up lately 
to take Mr. Calhoun's and Mr. McDuffie's. It was engaged by 
the young men of the bar, who have ordered a number of copies. 
The one presented to me is what I send by Guilfoyle as an arti- 
cle of ornament in the furniture of Badwell. 

On account of the illness of his daughter Caroline (Mrs. 
Carson), Petigru threw aside all his business and by the advice 
of the doctors took her and her infant and nurse to the Springs 
in Virginia. The route followed was by steam boat to Wilming- 
ton^ North Carolina, then by railroad to Charlottesville and the 
remainder of the journey by stage coach. The letters following 

*The bust referred to is a very good likeness of him and continued to be 
"an article of ornament in the furniture of Badwell." It was among the first 
artistic efforts of the plasterer Clarke Mills, who a few years later became 
celebrated as the artist who designed the equestrian statue of General Jackson 
at Washington. 

244 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

describe the life at the Springs and the various people that he 
met on the journey. 


White Sulphur, 13 August, 1845. 
My dear Sue: 

True to our appointment, we took the coach on Monday; 
having engaged the whole of it and stipulated for the liberty of 
traveling as we pleased. It was with some feeling of sorrow, 
that we quit the Warm Springs, where we had become a sort of 
inmates; and a sort of dread of the journey accompanied us on 
the road. But tho' Caroline sometimes confessed to a sense of 
pain and was much fatigued the first day before we finished our 
stage of 26 miles, we made out on the whole very well. As the 
coach was very large, she lay on the back seat, and contrary to 
the ordinary rule, that passengers hurry the driver, we were 
calling to him to drive gently and not go too fast. It was 10 
o'clock yesterday when we arrived. The sight of this place is 
brilliant on emerging from the Allegheny. The rows of cottages, 
many very handsome, gravelled walks, green lawns and smooth 
terraces, strike the eye with pleasure, enhanced by novelty and 
surprize. Nearly all this is new to me, for almost everything 
has been changed since 1833, when I was here before. The 
chief superintendent received us at the door and learning who 
we were, directed the driver to drive into the enclosure, to the 
door of the cottage assigned to us. It is the same that Mr. 
Jerome Bonaparte had vacated that morning, and there we 
found at the steps Dr. Edward North and Mrs. Matt Singleton. 
Caroline was soon ushered into her room, and before she was well 
'.n bed, Mrs. Bull Pringle and Mrs. Singleton had come to see her. 
Martha remained with her till I went to dinner, and it was a 
sight to see upwards of 500 people dining together. Of course 
anything like a banquet is out of the question as well as any 
sensible notion of comfort, in such a way of eating. Mrs. 
Singleton had engaged a maid for Caroline according to 
promise, and then the servants of the establishment, who are 
assigned to their particular cottages or rooms, brought Caroline 
her dinner. But Mrs. Singleton was not satisfied that she 
had anything good enough and sent her a pheasant very 
nicely dressed by her own cook. Then after dinner came 
little Ashby and Mary McDuffie and Mrs. Gamage, and Mrs. 
Governor Gilmer and Mattie again, so that I was afraid she 
would talk too much and have her attention fatigued. I was 
glad to take Mrs. Gamage off to tea as the bell rang; after 
tea, I accompanied Mrs. Gamage to Mrs. Dupont's. You will 
be glad to hear that your Godmother is stirring but sorry when 
I tell you that she has been sick here, and looks very poorly still. 

Your affectionate Father. 

James Louis Petigru 245 


White Sulphur, 29 August, 1845. 
My dear Sue: 

It is Friday and a letter today is your due, and it is also due 
to you to say that your despatch of the 15th was by no means to 
be confounded with those careless compositions, that fill the 
page with words but give no distinct idea to the mind. Quite 
the contrary; there is in it a detail and selection of circumstances 
making it as entertaining as a newspaper, so well characterized 
by Cowper as "a map of busy life." So you may imagine how 
Caroline and I walk down to the Spring in the morning and 
evening, she fortified with my walking stick and I carrying the 
umbrella. You may conceive us attended by little Mary 
McDuffie, who has taken a great fancy to Caroline and shows it 
by trying to walk with the same stick. James, the young Adonis, 
is not so much changed but that you may easily picture to your- 
self how he looks in the arms of the respectable Stewart, who 
expects him to be admired and resents the want of admiration 
as if she was to be the object of it. But I can not give you a 
no'rion of Mr. [Andrew] Stevenson, who makes dialogue as if it 
was for the stage; and of whom, it is enough to those who know 
how rare it is, to say, that being a great lawyer and a great poli- 
tician, he never talks a word of law or politics. But he is so 
kind to us, and encourages us so much by the liking he shows for 
our conversation, that it is enough to increase one's self-esteem. 
Mr. and Mrs. [Richard] Singleton appear here in the character 
of persons giving tone to society. She is not ambitious, but 
conscious of her duty to Society and fulfilling it well. Mr. 
Singleton is here a different man entirely from what he is at home. 
There he is an indefatigable planter and inveterate turfman. 
Here he is the politest man of the age, scrupulously attentive to 
his dress and marked in his civility to the ladies. We breakfast 
and take tea with them every day. For at these occasions they 
have their own table; the material found by the local govern- 
ment, and the only cause of hesitation is the injustice of monopo- 
lizing the seats, which might be filled by a more varied company, 
and give them the opportunity of displaying a more diffusive 
hospitality. I have written so much about Mr. [Henry] Clay, 
that I have only to say that he enquired after the Doctor and 
made many kind observations about him and aunt Julia. 
Capt. [John] Tyler and his dynasty moved yesterday to the 
Sweet Springs. 

Our duty to Ma; to the magnanimous youths salutation; I 
embrace little Adele and am dear Sue, affectionately, 

Your Father. 

246 ^(/if, Letters and Speeches 


Sweet Springs, 4th September, 1845. 
My dear Sue: 

You perceive that we are at the Sweet Springs, one of the 
nicest places in the mountains, and if Ma was here, I think she 
would enjoy it more than any other scene in our progress. If you 
ever see my letters to Ma, you will have learned all the import- 
ant matters contained in our journal down to the beginning of 
this month. Wednesday was the day for me to write to you in 
course, but that was the day we had arranged to quit the Springs 
and J supposed you would rather hear of us after our arrival than 
before. So having taken a whole coach and appointed 9 o'clock 
for it to be at the door, we went to spend Tuesday evening with 
Mrs. Cabell, where Mr. Clay, General Mercer, Gov. [George R.] 
Gilmer and many other names in Virginia well known, did at the 
same time repair and were treated to watermelon (a present to 
Mr. Clay, which came from some friend far off, that had sent 
them by stage) and ice cream which are not so great a rarity in 
the mountains. Mrs. Cabell is a very amiable woman, and her 
cottage very much frequented by friends of herself and husband 
[William H. Cabell], the President-Judge of Virginia, which is 
what they would call in Pennsylvania the Chief-Justice. But 
it is perhaps more on account of their fair daughter than for any 
other cause, that Mrs. Cabell's cottage is the center of attraction. 
That daughter is now two-and-thirty and still receives the hom- 
age of true Virginians and still consigns, every year, new lovers 
to despair. Now you will applaud your ready wit because you 
need no time to discover the reason, but pronounce at once that 
she is beautiful. You are quite mistaken; she never was and 
nobody, not even among the great rejected, would probably say 
he thought she was. You now recollect yourself, feel satisfied 
that your first judgment was precipitate; men don't think so 
much of beauty when a proposal is in question, and you now are 
satisfied that her long reign is owing to another and more 
efficient cause, for she is very rich. Out again my dear, the poor 
Judge has nothing but his salary $2750, and can't resign because 
he would starve. Equally vain will be your supposition if you 
suppose she is witty or has the graces of speech. In fact, she 
is remarkable in no way; makes no effort to shine and does not 
shine, but dresses, talks and sits like a staid, sedate, imper- 
turbable person. And no doubt in my mind that the secret of 
her success is to be found in that principle that leads men to take 
pleasure in a difficulty overcome. (Read Kame's criticism 
through on Boileau's "L'art poetique," for a full account of it.) 
It is because she is so hard to please, that all the world are 
smitten with the desire of pleasing her. But to return to the 
watermelons: Mrs. Wickham, a dowager with a good jointure, 

James Louis Petigru 247 

many years a belle and long at the head of Richmond society, 
was one of the convives. She was coming to the Sweet Springs, 
and Mr. Stevenson had advised her to join our party, so it was 
agreed that the same coach should contain us. With Mary 
McDuffie and the servant that Caroline had hired at the Springs 
our party was five; Mrs. Wickham had a big boy, a son of hers, 
one of that class of animated nature called cubs, and a fat atten- 
dant strongly marked with African features, of middle age, 
called a maid. So that our extra had now a full load and as Mr. 
Turner, a contemporary at West Point of your Uncle Charles, 
wished a place, I thought it was as well to make a voyage of it and 
took him aboard. And now we are fairly under way and have 
cleared Mrs. Caldwell's gate, when Mrs. Wickham demanded 
her umbrella. The maid very satisfactorily answered that 
she put it in the coach, but presently, Mrs. Wickham bethought 
her that seeing is believing, and would see it. Then commenced 
a scuffle. The umbrella could not be found and the dowager 
declared the umbrella indispensible; Cub put in and said he 
would make out on the outside seat with mine. But before we 
got to the top of the hill the dowager was out upon the maid and 
ordered her to get out and get the umbrella. Nobody opened 
the door and the maid did not stir, but the passion was now at 
its height and she accompanied her orders to get out with dig- 
ging at the back and sides of the domestic and amidst their cries 
the coachman stopped. The dowager declared that it was all 
the same thing as we had the whole day before us and only 16 
miles to go, and the umbrella must supersede everything. 
Luckily the umbrella, which was all the time under the front 
seat at the bottom, was now produced by the indignant menial 
and we got under way once more. Nor did we meet with any 
accident further, but arrived here at ^ after one, where our 
friends were very glad to see us, and all looking very well, Mat- 
tie being a great deal better than she left the White Sulphur 
Springs. Our friend the dowager, while our baggage was taken 
off, changed her mind twice between the choice of rooms in the 
Hotel or in a cottage; finally, the cottage, which was the first 
idea, was adopted, and Mr. Stevenson gallantly took his seat 
beside her, while the coach was driven to her new abode. But 
he came back crestfallen for the dowager was shocked when 
shown her room, that he hadn't it in comfortable order, while he 
affects to consider it as no part of his duty to make up the beds 
and put things to rights. Our interesting travelling companion 
reminds me very much of my dear friend Mrs. Neufville, and I 
am alarmed at the idea of superseding Mr. Stevenson in her good 
opinion. She has talked of coming into the hotel and taking 
rooms near us; in that case, I will take care that Caroline shall 
find it impossible to Hve in the hotel so far from Mattie. She 
(Caroline) made her appearance last night in the parlor, and this 

248 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

morning James is amusing himself with a soda biscuit in his 
hands, which he carries to his mouth in a business-hke way; you 
may conceive, therefore, that we are not falhng back. Judge 
Huger and Daniel arrived at dinner yesterday. The Judge is 
marvelous improved and tho' Daniel has an eye tied up, he says 
that his condition has changed a great deal for the better. * * * 

Your affectionate Father. 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

Sweet Springs, 12 September, 1845. 
My dear Sue: 

My letter to Ma of the 9th which I did hope came safe to hand, 
put you h mime of our projected turning to the Red Spring, a 
modest neighbour of this one. What we said we did, and paid 
our bill and moved over to Mr. Sampson's by 2 o'clock that day, 
where we found young Daniel Elliot Huger and Mr. Hutchin- 
son of Hamburgh and his pretty wife, and tho' we were not as 
well lodged as at the Sweet, we were far better fed. But it was 
not for a nice table that we had made that change, but in the 
hope of an accelerated pace in the improvement of your sister's 
looks and strength. But we endured the doom so often found 
by people not content with doing well. The famous chalybeate 
bath fed by the Red Spring, which gets its name from a deposit 
of that colour so rapid as to turn everything in its power into 
stone, proved inauspicious to us. The bath is not limpid like 
the Sweet; it is not so spacious, and does not affect the imagin- 
ation so agreeably. As I did not go into it, I can not speak of 
its effect on the senses except from report, and in this case, 
Caroline did not find in the reality any compensation for the 
want of exterior attractions. That was set down however to 
the disadvantage of the hour, 5 in the afternoon, when she first 
went into it. Next morning, the 10th, it was worse and a cold 
was the consequence, which put a stop to any more bathing 
there. On Thursday we had been joined by Mr. and Mrs. Low- 
den, and they proposed a walk to the Sweet Springs (a mile) 
and Caroline seemed so anxious to join the party, that I could 
not refuse tho' 1 thought it hardly right. But we got here very 
easily and were made welcome by our friends, and I can hardly 
say we were pressed to stay, for Caroline did not wait for press- 
ing, to declare her disinclination to return. It was soon 
arranged: instead of the best quarters at the place, which we 
gave up when we left it on Tuesday, we took very inferior ones 
and I returned alone to the Red Springs to bring James and the 
baggage. But the announcement was very disagreeable to the 
respectable Stewart, who delighted in the improved table of Mr. 
Sampson, and contemplated with great disgust a return to Mr. 
Massey's scanty supply of baked meat, and still more penurious 

James Louis Petigru 249 

allowance of milk and vegetables. However, cross looks have 
no effect on James, who concerns himself very little with them 
and smiles and laughs as usual, and Caroline having carried her 
point, had no cause to distress herself at the unpopularity of the 
measure with those who could not prevent it. This morning 
she took the bath here with great success and repeated it today, 
with so much comfort to herself, that the effect of the cold is now 
not thought of. 

Saturday, the 13th. 
We are to set off at 10 o'clock (it is now }i past 9) for the 
White Sulphur again. We go this time with the Singletons. 
They, to make their arrangements for leaving the mountains, 
which they make easier at the White Sulphur where they are 
most at home. We, to drink the waters for a week more. I 
think Caroline is very much better. The bath here has acted as 
a remedy for the cold she took at the Red, and if it was not for 
the want of power of standing? I would almost think she was well 
again, but, altho' she walks very well, she complains as soon as 
she is still if there is no seat at hand. We have been taking 
leave of our acquaintances, some of them very pleasant people, 
of whom Caroline will talk to you some day. But nothing can 
make amends for want of Mr. Stevenson. He went last Tuesday 
and we shall not see him again unless we meet at Richmond. 
But I am very uncertain where to go. It is my desire to con- 
sult some physician of eminence about Caroline's case and I find 
in that wish a very strong reason for going to Philadelphia and 
New York. A better reason than my own desire to see those 
places again; a desire I felt more strongly when we left home than 

1 do now. Now I really feel more inclination for home than 
curiosity for what is to be seen abroad. Should you write after 
receiving this, direct to the White Sulphur, for if not there, 
letters will be forwarded. Dear Sue I am glad you did not insult 
Mr. Trapier, but sorry you came so near doing so. He is an 
unpopular man, and it is not the part of a generous mind to be 
merry at his expense, nor does it become us churchmen to give 
an example of disrespect for the Church or its feeblest minister 
in these times of schism. My duty to Ma; remember the mag- 
nanimous youths; I embrace little Adele and am dear Sue, 

Your affectionate Father. 

to mrs. james l. petigru 

White Sulphur Springs, 16 Sept., 1845. 
Your not writing, my dear Jane, is a proof that you are suf- 
fering every day, more or less, from those cruel pains, which 
take away so much of your attention from every subject but 
your own distressing situation. * * * We arrived here at 

2 o'clock, and found that sort of change, which marks the tran- 

250 J-^ifs^ Letters and Speeches 

sition from gaiety and noise to the silence of deserted halls. 
There are still about 60 here; most of them persons like our- 
selves, desirous of testing the water by a full trial. It must be 
confessed that ours now, is not so much a trial or experiment, as 
a confirmed faith. The good effects desired from it heretofore, 
induce us to repeat the application, with a strong assurance that 
it will be still more efficacious. This, however, is our last week; 
on Monday or Tuesday next, we will break ground on our 
return. Should we not go to Philadelphia, we will probably see 
the Natural Bridge, but I don't suppose that we will attempt to 
gain a sight of any of the caves, which are the next greatest 
curiosities to the Bridge. * * * j ^^^ much tempted to go 
ahunting yesterday, for my reputation is much enhanced here, 
by a shooting match, in which I carried off one of the prizes. 
If I had gone they would have expected great execution from me, 
but I preferred to stay at home and finish the last No. of Thiers' 
" Consulate & Empire, " that Caroline brought with her. James 
is so good a child, that he is almost enough to reconcile one to the 
character of a grandfather. By the way, I have had my hair 
cut since I was here, which has undeceived people on the subject 
of the wig, in which they firmly believed. This was a great pity, 
for the wig was considered so becoming, that it was in a fair way 
of setting the fashion, and might have made me distinguished 
as a leader. The greatest lawyer of the age is gone: Judge 
Story. I hope the Bar of Charleston will pay so much respect 
to genius and learning as to commemorate his death by some 
act of respect. My love to Sue, and remembrance to the mag- 
nanimous Youth and I am, Dearest, ever Thine, 



White Sulphur Springs, 21 Sept., 1845. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * These two letters therefore, are the balance of the 
account which will be left in your hands at the close of our cor- 
respondence. We are going to leave this place in the morning 
with Mr. and Mrs. Ingraham. Caroline is not well and strong 
enough to travel in stages that keep pace with the mail, and I 
have "chartered a coach," as they say here, to Winchester, 
which means, that we have all the coach to ourselves and stop 
when we please and pay double price; that is to say, I pay for 
8 seats, of which Mr. Ingraham takes two and the other six are 
for us and the maid, whom Caroline will leave at the end of the 
second day's journey. I believe we will leave these springs with 
regret, for they have become quite natural to us. Mr. Caldwell, 
the proprietor, is a polite old gentleman, who never was intended 
for an innkeeper, as his white hair and small cue carefully tied 

'James Louis Petigru 251 

with a black ribbon, would convince any one at a glance. He 
distinguishes those persons that he considers deserving of his 
attention, by asking them to take wine sometimes at his 
house; and very good wine he has. But there is something in 
the mountain air, and more especially in the sulphur water, that 
makes wine an expletive here and even renders people careless 
to the attractions of toddy and juleps, tho' these last are greatly 
preferred to any other drinks of the kind. Mr. Caldwell puts 
us on the footing of his distinguished guests and not only his wine 
is at my service, but his game is offered to Caroline who, in con- 
sequence, has sometimes a nice pheasant for breakfast. Of 
Judge Cabell and his family, particularly his uncommon daugh- 
ter who, by the absence not only of all affectation but even, of the 
show of any desire to please, has enslaved more hearts than any 
coquette of her times, you know everything, except that they 
go away tomorrow too. Indeed, I don't know who are going to 
stay, except Mrs. Skinner, a Virginia woman that lives in New 
Orleans and is waiting here for her husband. This lady, for 
the extreme gracility to which her figure has been brought and 
the ample outline of her tournure, appears here like a strange 
bird in the farmyard. Mr. and Mrs. Gamage have been gone 
since Tuesday. I advised Mr. Gamage strongly to go along with 
his wife, till he saw her on board the Wilmington boat, and not 
to trust to hooking on to other people but take care of his wife 
himself. I hope they took my advice and that she has gone home 
where her presence must be so much desired by her daughter. 
I assure you Sue, I begin to feel very anxious to see home and my 
friends, and this sentiment you will have the goodness to com- 
municate to the magnanimous youths, and assure Ma of my 
love and duty. Receive my congratulations on the opening 
virtues of little Adele who will, I hope, serve as a counterpart of 
James' character, he the best of men; she the sweetest of her sex, 
and be assured dear Sue, of the affectionate regard and constant 
wishes for your happiness of 

Your Father. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

White Sulphur Springs, Va., 

21st September, 1845. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * Caroline's spirits are good and she walks about with 
animation, but she complains of her knees and of much weak- 
ness besides. I am convinced that her health requires very 
diligent and sensible attention. I am afraid that she is not 
likely to learn how to manage it, and that there are none about 
her from whom in this particular, she can expect much assistance. 
However, we have great reason to congratulate ourselves that 

252 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

our expedition to this place has been so favorable. If I had 
known how much was ailing her before I left home, I would have 
been more on my guard, and not run the risk I did in traveling 
bv the mail stage. Being now warned of that difficulty, I have 
provided against it by chartering a coach, as they call it here, 
or hiring an Extra, as they say further North. The consequence 
of this is, we will travel as we please and not run the risk of 
breaking down by excessive fatigue or by loss of sleep in riding 
at night. We go from this place to Winchester, and from Win- 
chester there is a railroad to Harper's Ferry, and there a junction 
with the Baltimore Rail Road; we will get to Baltimore in 5 days 
if we do not stop on the way. I am not sure that we shall go 
any farther north than that place. We shall probably see Wash- 
ington, return to Baltimore and take the way home by Chesa- 
peake Bay, or proceed from Washington to Richmond and so on 
by the railroad to Wilmington. But I am no means fixed in my 
mind about visiting Philadelphia and New York, the latter of 
which I should like very much to see. If we should extend our 
journey northward, I will write to you again, otherwise you will 
not hear from me till we see Charleston. * * * When we 
came to this place, there were more than 600 people; now there 
are hardly 30. We have not made many acquaintances, yet we 
have met with some agreeable people that I would like to see 
again. Such as Judge Cabell, and his wife and his uncommon 
daughter, who has no remarkable beauty nor manners nor taste 
in dress; neither shines nor tries to please, except by offending 
nobody, and yet has enslaved more hearts than the greatest 
coquette of her day, 

"No conquest she but o'er herself desired. 
No arts essayed but not to be admired." 

Mr. Clay was here a fortnight, the central point as long as he 
staid, of all the attractions of the place. He behaved exceed- 
ingly well; is much more sedate than in 1844, and if not pious, 
evidently more under the influence of devotional feelings than 
he used to be. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to susan petigru 

Milledgeville, 27 November, 1845. 
My dear Sue: 

As pure gold is but proved by the furnace, my affection as you 
see, triumphs over all the temptations of Milledgeville and for- 
bids me to forget you or little Adele. And yet, this is what is 
called in the Geographies a capital town and is now at a season, 
like the Chrysanthemums of St. Michael's Alley, in full blow. All 
the wisdom of the State, as far as the people are capable of find- 
ing it out, is here selected, so that Society is not to be deplored. 

James Louis Petigru 253 

We live at Mrs. Hayne's in a large brick house and I have a 
whole room to myself, more than 20 feet square, and firewood 
without stint. Certainly, in such circumstances, you would 
not have thought it surprising that I should forget home. Well 
dear, I do not mean to boast, but take for granted that you will 
readily and at once acknowledge that it is a great proof of papa's 
affections that he finds time in such a place to write. The time 
is not snatched, to be sure, from pleasure but from weariness of 
spirit. It is now 7 years that I have been pursuing the Legisla- 
ture with the complaint that they owe us money, which, in 
common honesty, they should pay. They are now making a 
great effort to be just; the height to which they aspire will ele- 
vate them greatly in the moral scale, but Virtue does require such 
sacrifices, it is still questionable whether they will be able to 
reconcile to human weakness the magnanimous resolution of 
paying the principle without any interest after 50 years of dis- 
honest evasion. As to their paying any interest, that I believe 
is a forlorn hope. On Tuesday next, however, the issue will be 
tried and we will see what is to become of the claim for the pres- 
ent at least, as it is made the order of the day for that day. My 
time is spent in reading a couple of reviews and a law book I 
brought with me and occasionally a few chapters of Tacitus; 
going to the State House; listening to proceedings of no interest, 
regularly adjourned at the hour of dinner, which is here 1 o'clock. 
Nothing on earth could induce them as it seems, to put off that 
important business five minutes beyond the appropriate time. 
In the afternoon there is the going to the Post Office, where one 
sees everybody and then, after dawdling away an hour or two, 
supper comes at sundown, and the interval between supper and 
bedtime is spent just like the rest of the day. I came here with 
a bad cold and have outlived it. The weather has been very 
warm till the last 24 hours and now it is quite cold. I wish you 
would write and let me know how Ma is, and when you are going 
to move, and how Henry and George Street are. I may be home 
in a week and may remain till near Christmas. Adieu. 

Your Father. 

to captain thomas petigru 

Charleston, 8th December, 1846. 
My dear Tom: 

* * * There is going to be a great rise in property, so my 
friend, Conner, tells me, and, of course, you will never find a 
house so cheap again. Chisolm (John) has bought Howland's. 
Carson wharf is advertised for the 22d and it is a very interest- 
ing question whether it will sell for ?100,000. They gave 
$120,000. I am afraid the loss will be very great. It would 
not be so bad if the money were lost already, but as they bought 

254 l^iJ€, Letters and Speeches 

on credit, the money is lost before it is found, and I am afraid 
the finding of it will be a very hard trial of some people's ability. 
* * * I have concluded an arrangement with Mr. Coster's 
executors, by which I am cut loose from the Oswitchie Company 
forever. The deed was signed on the 4th, on a written promise 
to release me, which is as good as the release itself. * * * 
This day week I will go to Columbia to argue a case. 
My love to Anne, and the sisterhood and childhood. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

Milledgeville, 10th December, 1845. 
This is the beginning of the second month my dear Sue, since 
I have seen you or any of you. It was not believed when I used 
to sav, perhaps I will be gone a month; it was not believed even 
by myself, that it would be a month in reality that I would pass 
in this hole. And it astonishes me even, that I remain here so 
composedly. Nor is the period of our deliverance any more 
certain than it has been all along. The expectation of getting 
the amount of the debt is abandoned on all hands. It is only 
the principal which is expected, 50 years of interest being re- 
garded as abolished. Our case was to be heard on Tuesday 2d inst. 
and it was begun to be heard, when a man with a crooked nose, 
called Sanford, moved to put off the further consideration of it, 
till he could examine and satisfy his mind on the merits of the 
case. One would suppose from this, that he had a design to 
compare the evidence with the most approved ideas of justice 
and to give an opinion like a moralist or, at least, like a jurist 
when the discussion came on again. Quite the contrary; he 
employed all the intermediate time in preparing his dull mind 
to show in a speech that a debt which has been due upwards of 
60 years must be an old debt and therefore suspicious, and if 
suspicious, not perfectly clear. This pattern of reason and 
argument was the work of the 5th inst. Mr. Harris, a very good 
lawyer and a different sort of person, made an answer to this 
suspicious specimen of Honesty, but unfortunately when he had 
concluded, the hour of One had arrived; an hour in these regions 
set apart with something like religious scrupulosity to the con- 
suming of bad victuals. Of course the House dispersed, prom- 
ising to return at 3, and at 3 many did come, but Judge Kenon, 
a very intellectual personage, who is scarcely less than 7 feet 
high and of corresponding proportions, and who as Judge was 
chiefly famous for sustaining his judgements by his big looks, 
now moved another adjournment of the question, which was 
carried of course, the more readily because everybody supposed 
the Judge was just the person to oppose the claim. But it so 
happens the Judge is my fast friend; a friendship cemented by 

James Louis Petigru 255 

the contents of a small Dutch liquor case, which 5 or 6 years ago 
was brought here filled with generous liquor not the worse for 
the keeping. To cut short the story of this long delay, the case 
was put off till Monday the 8th, and then at my request, con- 
tinued till Thursday the 11th, which is tomorrow. But tomor- 
row will be occupied with the unfinished business of today and 
if a vote is even taken on the case, it is likely to be some time 
about Friday or Saturday next. As to the result, we have can- 
vassed the 130 members of the House and suppose that 73 of 
them are in our favor. Yet strange things sometimes happen 
when votes are actually counted, and theresult iswideof themark 
which the best informed people had fixed on. If the Bill passes 
the House, it has still to run the gauntlet of the senatorial wis- 
dom, which is scarcely less appalling than the representative 
greatness of the other House. I saw today a very remarkable 
family: a mother with three sons (you can not call them twins 
when there are three) seven months old, all very fine hearty 
children. She is a young person not ill-looking, and far from a 
desponding expression of countenance. Indeed, she had no 
reason to despair today, for of the crowd that gathered to see 
the children, many contributed to their nurture and a sort of 
rivalry having sprung up between my friend Judge Kenon and a 
contemporary of his they went on outvying one another, till 
the poor woman and her brats were 15 dollars in gold better off. 
The father of the interesting family does not make any part of 
the show. He is said to be laid up at home with rheumatism; 
not unlikely, as they live in the mountains. One of our Mem- 
bers died on Monday and was buried yesterday. He died in the 
same house I was staying in, and was a countryman of ours 
originally from Edgefield. He was a poor sort of creature that 
had no sort of idea of taking care of himself and could not be 
kept out of the worst weather when able to leave the house, tho* 
he was in a galloping consumption. Last night the Governor's 
Levee, as it is called, took place. Apple toddy was furnished the 
men, who did not abuse the privilege more than is sometimes 
seen in places of more pretension; not more than Ma's company 
in the times that you don't remember, but which you may if you 
are clever to coax Ma some time to tell you of. Poor Mrs. 
Crawford is the last person in the world that popularity seems 
intended for. She is by no means without a due sense of her 
merit, in fact, her conversation is rather ambitious, but she has 
no turn for entertaining and does not try. They are very dull 
things at best, but might have been improved by the dancing of 
the young people; yet, altho' the music was there, nobody had 
spirit enough to call out a dance. There was no resource there- 
fore, but to walk round and round the room or join some dismal 
group seated against the wall. I am always delighted with 
details of domestic life, when they relate to those I love, and read 

256 J^if^', Letters and Speeches 

with interest all you wrote about the Aunts and George Street 
and Ma. * * * j hope Ma continues to defend the virtues 
of mesmerism by her example even more than by her tongue. 
Make me remembered to Henry. I embrace little Adele and 
am, dear Sue, 

Your affectionate Father. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, November 5, 1847. 
* * * Wish me good luck at Milledgeville, for if I succeed 
I will, in a year, be out of debt. 

James Louis Petigru 257 



Hospitality; Dress Coat "Destituated"; A Mean Inn; 
Daniel; Mexico 

to captain THOMAS PETIGRU 

December 29, 1846. 
On Xmas day I had Butler (the Colonel) and B. T. Watts to 
dine with me and William, and we had a very pleasant day, 
though we were all vastly sober. My cold, which had been 
very severe, would hardly allow me to show them an example of 
doing justice to the wine. Governor Johnson is here, busy in 
getting off the volunteers. The last of them moved this morn- 
ing for Hamburg. It is not known who will be the brigadier. 
I have heard that it has been offered to Gadsden, and there is 
an inclination to press Butler's claims for Jt^ * * * 


Charleston, 25th November, 1846. 
My dear Tom: 

* * * Everything is in the same track. Prices are good. 
Folks are saucy; news scarce. William Blanding's company is 
not filled yet. To my surprise William Gillison, of Coosa- 
whatchie, a man that has a wife, probably children, good plan- 
tation, negroes to work it, has come down here and enrolled his 

name as a full private. I think he must be a little cracked. 

* * * 


Savannah, 8th July, 1846. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * We did not work on Monday, but went to work on 
Tuesday, when the Judges heard two speeches. Today they 
hear Mr. McAlister; tomorrow they will hear Judge Berrien and 
me probably on Friday. Then there remain two other causes, 
which will be likely to consume much of next week. In packing 
up, I made many mistakes: came away without a night-shirt 
and put in my trunk for a dress coat, a thing thoroughly worn 
out with a great rent under the arm. For this last mistake I 
blame Ma, for, if she had not "destituated" the house (as poor 

258 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

Dr. LeSeigneur said) this old rag would not have been in my 
drawers nor found its way into my trunk. It was very fortunate 
that I took a survey of the condition of the coat before I put it on 
to attend a dinner party to which I went on Monday, otherwise, 
I would have been acting the part of Diogenes without his Tub. 
It has been awful hot; my opinion that this climate is better than 
Charleston is undergoing a change. My love to Ma; to Aunt 
Jane likewise, and I am, dear Sue, for you and Henry and Adele, 

Your loving Pa & Grandpapa. 

to captain thomas petigru 

Charleston, June 28, 1847. 
My dear Tom: 

* * * Dan is not gone. Sitgreaves had only sixty-three 
men and ordered Dan to remain for recruiting. I was sorry for 
it, but could not prevent it, and the military men say it is better 
for him if he will fill up his company. But when that will be 
I know not, for the complement is no less than forty. I 
thought he had written to you for your advice whether he 
should try Abbeville. In this place he picks up a recruit or 
two in a week, perhaps more. Not one of the companies has 
been filled up. Hamilton and Manigault, two of the new cap- 
tains, have not, I believe, more than fifty between them and 
Sitgreaves got only five and twenty in York and the upper dis- 
tricts. On the other hand the North Carolina companies had 
over their complements. 

You will see by the newspapers (if they reach you) that dis- 
order seems to increase in Mexico, and that the guerillas have 
had the impudence to attack Mcintosh and take away some of 
his wagons. * * * 

I will go as soon as I can get away from this place, of which I 
am heartily tired, and will be happy when I join you in riding 
over those poor fields of yours, where there is so little to see, 
except always the attachment to the native soil so celebrated in 
song and so little in fashion among our roving and adventurous 
bands. Love to the sisters three and children all and our dear 
captain. Affectionately, 

Your Brother. 

Daniel was the only son of Mr. Petigru and was the favorite 
child of his mother. He was now twenty-three years old, — 
small, good-looking, clever at repartee, told a good story and 
sang with a fine tenor voice. He had been a student at Prince- 
ton, had been admitted to the Bar in South Carolina, and on the 
9th of April, 1847, was appointed first lieutenant of the United 

James Louis Petigru 259 

States Army and assigned to the Third Regiment of Dragoons, 
According to the records of the War Department Dan joined 
his Regiment in Mexico, October 26, 1847. In December of 
that year he was made Captain and assigned commander of a 
company till February, 1848; was then placed under arrest and 
continued to have a succession of scrapes; he only escaped being 
cashiered by the Regiment being disbanded in July, 1848. 


Sullivans Island, 9 October, 1847. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * Dan set off this day week with his men, 11 or 12. 
They told me at the hotel in Augusta, that he had been there 
the evening before I arrived and was disappointed in not meet- 
ing me. He would have done so if I had not been disappointed, 
for that was the evening that I had intended to reach Augusta. 
The grass in our plot is beautiful. The new gate to the church 
is the greatest improvement on the Island, and the churchyard, 
tho' not quite free from cockspurs, is a pleasant place to see. 
At Columbia the rumor of Mr. Polk's death was firmly believed. 
Mr. Elmore had had such an account of his situation as to make 
the account of his near dissolution very probable, but the news 
and the contradiction of it excited very little interest. I am 
grieved that Gen. Clinch has lost his election, tho' it is some 
consolation that the Whigs have secured both branches of the 
Legislature as seems probable. I embrace little Adele and 
breathe a warm greeting to Henry and Mr. King and all his 
familiar circle. 

Your Father. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, October 18, 1847. 
My dear Sister: 

You have seen in the papers already the death of Judge 
Harper. The Bar had called a meeting here in my absence, 
for I arrived from Columbia yesterday in the car, and seeing the 
notice this morning, I attended the meeting. It was a great 
surprise to me to hear one of the resolutions, viz., that which 
relates to the appointment of a committee to wait on Mr. Petigru 
and make arrangement with him for delivering the eulogy. I 
must undertake it though it is a duty to which I do not feel 
equal. * * * 

I think this is enough for an invalid to read at one time, and 
with love to sister and children am, dearest Jane, 

Your Brother. 

260 L.ife^ Letters and Speeches 


Milledgeville, 22 November, 1847. 
My dear Sue: 

I received your letter today and right glad I was of it, and 
more obliged because you wrote first. It is 15 days that I have 
been here and every day I have felt, more than I did at any of 
my former visits, that I am out of place. The members of the 
Georgia Legislature are mostly new men. Out of 167, there are 
only 35 who were here two years ago. Then my petition was 
lost by a vote of 63 to 59 in the House of Representatives, which 
consists of 130 members. Now, of these 130, there are just 30 
who are here, of whom, 20 voted against the claim and 9 for it, 
and one was absent at the vote. Last Saturday we had a sort of 
preliminary trial, on a motion to print the report of the Commit- 
tee, which report is as favorable as it could have been if I had 
written it myself. Well, the vote stood for printing 57, against 
it 62. And what is strange, with two exceptions, every man 
who had formerly voted against the claim, voted against print- 
ing. Now the great question, whether they will pass the bill, 
will come up early next week, and one, who voted for printing, 
says he will vote against the bill and I am sure he will, so that 
the vote will be, in all probability, very close and the presump- 
tion very much against the passing of the bill in the House, and 
if it passes in the House, it has to undergo the ordeal of a pas- 
sage in the Senate. There, of the 5 old members three are for 
it and two against it. In all probability the vote in the House 
will decide the matter. You will judge whether I have any 
reason to be in high spirits with such a prospect. But I bear 
up bravely and try to make friends, and succeed in wearing a 
cheerful countenance. I don't know how far I am indebted for 
this success to the stock of philosophy which I have laid in since 
I came here, but under the impression that I had need of all the 
aid of that sort that I could get, I have purchased four volumes 
on the "Light of Nature," by Abraham Tucker. It is a very 
good book, and if I do not get the case, I will have the book to 
console me when I return home. Tom Thumb is the great 
attraction of Milledgeville just now. He arrived this morning 
or yesterday, I don't know which, and I have a mind to go to 
see him tomorrow, tho' have but little inclination for seeing 
people distinguished for inferiority, as I have opportunity 
enough for such observations in the Georgia Legislature. My 
success in the grand mission is supposed to depend on the vote of 
Mr. Mosely, a baptist preacher of that sort denominated "hard 
shells." He is a Whig and that seems favorable, but he voted 
against the printing of the Report and that seems very ominous, 
and he preserves on the subject of paying Peter Trezevant a 
silence, which is well calculated to make us dread his decision. 

James Louis Petigru 261 

If he pronounces the dreaded negative, I will probably be sooner 
at home, but whether sooner or later, it will give me sincere 
pleasure to embrace little Adele and to receive, dear Sue, your 
cordial welcome. * * * Your allusion to Mrs. Day is per- 
fectly unintelligible. Can it be possible that F. Day, the punc- 
tual tenant, the thrifty tradesman, the master of the most 
fashionable shop in King Street, has failed? Why, there is 
nothing in the downfall of Ministers of State, so significant of 
the vanity of Fortune, for this would be the downfall of vanity 
itself. My account of myself would be very deficient if I failed 
to mention my having made the acquaintance of Mrs. Herschell 
Johnson, wife of the distinguished Georgian, who wrote down 
Gen. Clinch and will be one day a Governor, if he meets with 
half of his deserts, as I am assured by Mrs. Herschell herself, 
who knows him better than anybody else. Nothing prevents 
him from being acknowledged for one of the greatest lawyers in 
America, so she says, but his aversion to study. Let our friend 
Henry think of that. Even his great alliance with Mr. Polk's 
cousin, for such Mrs. Herschell is, can not avail to make him the 
equal of Judge Berrien at the bar, without submitting to the 
trammels of plodding industry. Good night my dear Sue; I 
have been interrupted too; it is after 12 o'clock. 

Your Father. 


Milledgeville, 24th Nov., 1847. 
My dear Jane: 

Your letters of the 4th and 15th insts. have made me doubly 
your debtor, and you must not measure my feelings by the slow- 
ness of my pen. It will be just 3 weeks next Friday since I left 
home. I came here on the 7th, which was Sunday morning and 
attended church in the afternoon, where I saw Mrs. Thomas. 
She plays the organ and her daughter (niece) sings in the small 
choir, and Mr. Tinsley, the Secretary of State, who for a wonder 
is a churchman, leads. Mr. Thomas shows a wonderful docility 
in accommodating his religion to his wife; for, brought up as he 
has been on the frontier, his own notions of the duty of worship 
might be expected to partake of the Indian's more than those of 
the inhabitants of cities. But Mrs. Thomas has not only a 
church built, but has her husband and children regularly there 
to make up a congregation. 1 have been to their house last 
Sunday and the Sunday before and probably will go home with 
them tomorrow, as it is a Thanksgiving day, and will take care 
to make her acquainted with your remembrance. This place is 
filled with new faces. Out of 130 members of the House of 
Representatives, there are only 29 of those whom I met here 

262 J^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

two years ago. Unfortunately out of them, there are just 19 of 
the same men, 63 in number, who voted then against me, and 
only 9 of those who voted for me. They had been a week in 
session when I came here, and nothing had been done, for they 
had been caucusing all the time, and the election of Senators, 
which was the great interest of the Session, did not take place till 
Friday, the 12th inst. Judge Berrien succeeded in the darling 
object of his life, and in spite of great opposition, got 89 of his 
party to vote for him, which just elected him. He had not one 
vote to spare; one Whig was sick and one voted a blank, and he 
got all the rest. To think of a man of 70 canvassing for a six 
years' seat in the Senate of the United States as keenly as if he 
had a long life before him, and one must be satisfied that ambi- 
tion that will follow him to his grave. Dawson was then elected 
to fill the place of Judge Colquit, whose term will expire on 3d 
March, 1849. He was on the brink of betraying his party and 
going over to the Democrats. To prevent his treachery, they 
were obliged to postpone Crawford, the late Governor, who was 
the choice of his party and his State, and who was sacrificed to 
the policy of that party. These things being done, the members 
began to think of business. My petition was presented and 
referred to committees in both Houses, and they both reported 
in favor of paying Mr. Trezevant, and the Bill for that purpose 
has been read once in the House of Representatives. It will be 
read a second time probably on Friday or Saturday next, and 
the third reading, which is the great test, will probably take 
place about the 4th or 5th December. If it should be rejected 
by the vote of the House, as is but too likely, my business will 
then be over. Should it pass, it will be by a very close vote, and 
there seems very little doubt that if it passes the House, it will 
go through the Senate, and in that case, I will soon be in a con- 
dition to pay off my debts; that is, my commission on this claim 
will pay so much debt, that I will not have more than 6 or 7,000 
dollars more to provide for. I do my best to conciliate the minds 
of men by respectfully approaching as many as I can, and show- 
ing them the reasons which prove incontestibly that I am en- 
titled to what I am asking for. But it is a work that does not 
suit a person, that all his life has been accustomed to demand 
attention, and treat with scorn the knaves that are recreant to 
the obligations of truth and justice. 

I wrote to you that I heartily approve of your employment of 
slave labour in the instance of Hanway's man, and am glad he 
cuts his wood faithfully. * * * 

Your affectionate Brother. 

James Louis Petigru 263 


Milledgeville, December 27, 1847. 
My dear Jane: 

On the 6th of November I arrived here and returned to 
Charleston on the 9th inst. and came back on the 15th, and 
now I am going off in the morning with the bill for the relief of 
Peter Trezevant in my pocket. Almost against hope it has at last 
passed. It passed first on the 16th instant in the House by a 
vote of 62 to 58. Next day that vote was set aside by a vote of 
62 to S6, and on the following day, to the surprise of everybody, 
it was passed again by the same vote as at first — 62 to 58. Two 
years ago it was lost by the same majority — 63 to 59. We were 
greatly relieved by this, but in a short time our fears were again 
alarmed by apprehensions that the bill would be lost in the 
Senate, but on Thursday, the 20th, it passed the Senate by 28 
to 14. An attempt next day to set aside or reconsider this vote 
failed by a vote of 31 to 11. Our fears were not yet allayed 
entirely, for now there was a rumor that the Governor would 
veto. But on the 25th he approved of the bill and put the matter 
to rest. This bill gives Mr. Trezevant ^22,222.22, for which 
bonds of the State are to be issued. By this event I am relieved 
of the heaviest burden of life. Hamilton's commission and mine 
on the amount recovered will enable me to pay Mrs. Harriet 
Porcher the money which I unwittingly made myself responsible 
for, by lending it to him without security. It will also refund 
me my expenses, which have been very heavy and altogether 
it is a consummation in which we should all rejoice. 

The weather is severe at present. I have just closed my 
affairs and leave in the morning at 3 o'clock for home. I hope, 
my dear, you are better and everybody well. I embrace Mary 
and the girls, and am most devoutly your affectionate 


to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, December 29, 1847. 
My dear Jane: 

I arrived to-day at 1 o'clock by way of Savannah. One of 
the last things T did at Milledgeville was to write to you and to 
the Captain, giving you an account of my long warfare and nar- 
row escape. After finishing these and other letters friends came 
in, who had just left the State House, for the Legislature sat 
till 1 1 o'clock. They carried me to supper and we did not sepa- 
rate till 2. I lay down in my clothes, and had slept upwards of 
an hour, when I was aroused to be told the stage had come; 
down I went in bitter cold and found a buggy, nothing more, 
and in the bitter cold of Tuesday morning rode in that open 

264 Lije.^ Letters and Speeches 

conveyance 17 miles, arriving at the depot on the Central Road 
at dayhght. The exposure gave me a cold. Otherwise I am 
very well. 


January 5, 1848. 
I hope you got my letter from Milledgeville, giving you a 
detail of my adventures at that place. It appears now that the 
dangers were greater than I was aware of, for on Wednesday, 
the 29th, the Governor sent back to the House of Representa- 
tives the bill imposing taxes, with a message saying that he had 
signed the railroad bill and Trezevant bill under the supposition 
that they would provide money to pay the interest on the bonds, 
which those bills direct him to issue, and that he never would 
have signed them if he had not supposed that they would make 
an adequate provision for the public credit. He therefore 
vetoed the tax bill, and they passed it over his head by a vote 
of two-thirds, and authorized him to borrow $40,000 in 1848 in 
anticipation of the revenue of 1849. 

'James Louis Petigru 265 



Disgusted with Taylor Democratic Clubs; Stump Speech 
IN Abbeville for General Taylor; Bernard Bee; Dines 
WITH Mr. Calhoun; Flask and Silver Cup; Stump Speech 
FOR Taylor in the "Range" 

to MRS. jane petigru NORTH 

June 12, 1848. 
I was up all night about my speech for to-morrow, of which 
not a line was ready till yesterday. I returned after 4 in broad 
daylight this morning with the satisfaction of having my work 
in such a shape that I could go on with the speech as it is. You 
will not expect in these circumstances, a letter. 

In the autumn of this year Taylor ran against Cass for Presi- 
dent. Mr. Calhoun in a speech delivered at the old Theater, 
on Meeting street in Charleston, had suggested that a Southern 
Whig might be better than a Northern Democrat, and Taylor 
Democratic clubs were organized. Speaking of these Mr. Peti- 
gru says: 

I am not a candidate. They have sunk the Taylor party 
here into a mere clique, the main object being to make Porter 
Senator. I don't know that we will even vote for them. 


The election is in the greatest confusion. Of the thirty-nine 
candidates before the people nobody knows who will be elected. 
I am so disgusted with the Taylor Democrats that I am perfectly 
willing to see them routed. I'll do nothing against them, but 
certainly will not help them. I told John Cunningham I did not 
believe they would stand at Columbia, that they wanted to 
give in as soon as they found they were in the minority. But he 
assures me that if any man attempts to bolt he will serve him 
like a deserter. 

266 J^iJs-> Letters and Speeches 


delivered before the 
Charleston Library Society 


First Centennial Anniversary 

June 13th, 1848. 

By James L. Petigru, LL. D. 

a member of the society 


J. B. MixoN, Printer, No. 48 Broad Street 

This goodly presence of the intelligence, beauty and numbers 
of the City, shows that good actions, falling within the routine of 
daily life, may, by their effects, be invested with a high degree 
of public interest. We have assembled, not to celebrate an 
anniversary known to history, but the foundation of the Charles- 
ton Library Society; an association that owes its origin to the 
plain citizens of a small town, and has, for its object, the collec- 
tion of good books, and the encouragement of a taste for read- 
ing. No shout of victory hails the progress of these quiet bene- 
factors of Provincial Society. No trophies attest the success of 
their labors, or the gratitude of their country. They gained no 
glory by the destruction of mankind, and their arms were di- 
rected against no enemy but Ignorance. On the 13th June, 
1748, Alexander McCauley, Patrick McKie, William Logan, 
James Giindlay, Merton Branford, Joseph Wragg, Jr., Samuel 
Wragg, Jr., Robert Brisbane, Paul Douxsaint, Alexander Baron, 
John Sinclair, John Cooper, Peter Timothy, Williams Bur- 
rows, Charles Stevenson, John Neufville, Jr., Thomas Sa- 
cheverel, Samuel Brailsford, and Thomas Middleton, sub- 
scribed the roll, as the original members of the Society; and now, 
at the distance of a century, we give thanks for the good which 
they have done, and offer our congratulations on the benign 
favor of Providence, which has given their work stability, and 
allowed us to partake of the fruit of their labors. 

It is but just that we should remember them whose generous 
care was extended to posterity. They planted the tree which 
invites our noon-day steps from the cares of business, to its cool, 
refreshing shade. Gratitude demands the tribute at our hands; 
nor let self-conceit or vanity contemn, too easily, the value of 
such praise as belongs to the Founders of our Society. To such 
men, the world is indebted for much of its knowledge, and nearly 
all the material elements of comfort and happiness. It is not 
to extraordinary services, or to great occasions, that the sum of 

'James Louis Petigru 267 

human happiness belongs. Although we are dazzled by the 
style and equipage of the rich, the mass of national wealth is 
really in the hands of those who have but little. The treasury 
of the State would be but poorly supplied by the contributions of 
the opulent, if no assessments were laid on men of moderate 
means. And, however brilliant the path of ambition may be, 
with whatever honors the brow of genius may be crowned, 
society, after all, is mainly indebted for refinement in manners, 
and improvement in circumstances, to the modest and unpre- 
tending merit of those whose virtues are confined to the sphere 
of private life. Great abilities, even when best directed, avail 
but little, unless seconded by the general sense of the community. 
The honors of State, and the fame of learning, are bestowed on 
few; but the success of those who attain such envied distinction, 
in doing good to mankind, by correcting prejudice, or elevating 
the standard of public morals, depends on the co-operation of 
obscure and faithful agents. No age has been without its heroes; 
those who would have saved their country, if it had been possible, 
or rescued their fellow-men from guilt or ruin, if they had been 

Si Pergamma dextra 
Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent. 

But when the public mind is engrossed by sluggish indifference, 
or selfish cupidity, vain is the warning voice, and impotent the 
valiant arm. 

As in the order of nature, whatever bears the name of fruit, 
grows and is developed from the ground; so in the order of 
society, whatever is perfected in the form of a state, or commun- 
ity, grows and is developed out of the family. The virtues of 
the family lay the foundation for all the energies of the state; 
and according to the discipline and training of the family; such 
is the condition of the Body Politic. All real improvement, 
therefore, must commence in private life, and those who culti- 
vate the moral sentiments of individuals, and within the sphere 
of their influence, promote humanity and the love of order and 
industry are benefactors of their country, as well as of the 
particular society to which their labors are confined. Their 
merit is greater than their reward. They are more deserving 
in the eyes of God than of man; and among men are honored 
most by those, whose judgment is the most enlightened. It is 
not, therefore, without cause, that we commemorate the names 
of those who have laid the foundation of a public Library. Of 
all the instruments of man's invention, for the improvement 
of his strength, and the development of his skill, books are the 
greatest. They are not merely an auxiliary of civilization, but 
civilization lives in them. They are the inheritance of the Earth. 
All that is contained on the surface of the globe, all the structures 

268 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

that have been raised into the air, and all the wealth that has 
been dug out of the ground, are to the world, collectively, of far 
less value, than the books which have been written. Without 
letters, there would be an impassable gulf between the past and 
the present; and each generation, uninformed by experience, 
would be born into a world unknown; like aliens, wandering in a 
land where a permanent settlement is denied, and the acquisi- 
tions made by the dead, are resumed by a higher power. But 
books preserve the succession. By books, the present age enjoys 
the intercourse of the past, and will live in the learning of the 
future. Those who established this Library, therefore, pro- 
moted the interests of the community in the highest and noblest 
sense; and the honor done to their memory, is a tribute paid to 

Among those whom the Society has since enrolled as members, 
are many names distinguished in the State. But particular 
notice appears to be due to Thomas Bee; of whom it is men- 
tioned, that he was mainly instrumental in procuring the Charter 
of the Society in 1755. This was an indulgence seldom granted by 
the representatives of the Crown, and the measure was attended, 
at that time, with no little difficulty. In him urbanity and 
the love of letters tempered the severity of legal studies. His 
life was protracted to old age, and spent in the bosom of his 
native city, where he was esteemed and honored, and his home 
was the seat of hospitality. He had served the state in many 
situations of public trust, and was the first Judge of the Court 
of Admiralty, in this place, under the authority of the United 
States. His reports, published in 1810, confirm the reputation 
which he enjoyed in his life, of an able and upright judge. Nor 
can I pass, unheeded or unhonored, the name of Stephen Elliott; 
to whom we are indebted for a catalogue, such as none but a 
scholar could compile, and a memoir of the Society, of which he 
was President for ten years. He was a scholar of profound and 
various learning; and a man, endued with such beneficence of 
nature, and kindly dispositions, that admiration of his genius 
was subordinate to the feelings of affection and attachment, 
which his virtues excited. 

The Society consisted at first of nineteen members, among 
whom we recognize some familiar names, and we hope that the 
list will be perused with honest pride, by their descendants, at 
the end of another century. But many of them are no longer 
found on the census of our City. Their absence reminds us of 
the changes which an hundred years have wrought, and it is not 
uninstructive to consider the difference between the condition of 
things at the present day, and at the commencement of the 
century, which has elapsed since this Society came into exist- 
ence. Like the traveller, who climbs some hill, to gain the view 
of a distant scene, let us, from the standpoint of 1748, survey the 

James Louis Petigru 269 

prospect which the face of Society in Europe and America, then 
presented. The treaty of Aix la Chapelle, which was concluded 
in March, 1748, had just put an end to the long and bloody war 
of the Austrian succession. By the peace then concluded, the 
house of Lorraine was seated on the throne of Germany; and the 
restoration of the Stuarts to that of Great Britain, was finally 
abandoned. This war, which had been kindled by the opposing 
pretensions of the Queen of Hungary and the Elector of Bavaria, 
to the Imperial throne, had extended to other parties, and been 
inflamed by new causes of dispute. But the conflagration which 
set the South of Europe in a blaze, was excited by a contest of 
England with Spain, for the benefit of the slave-trade. The 
attempt of the Spaniards to restrict the monopoly which the 
English had enjoyed, of importing African slaves into Porto 
Bello, on the Spanish Main, was resented by an appeal to arms, 
which covered the soil of Europe with a million of fighting men. 
Europe was shaken to its centre, and the concussion extended to 
every part of the globe. The House of Bourbon stood single- 
handed against an European alliance. The allies sought for 
aid, even from the distant Russians; and the march of savage 
hordes from the banks of the Volga and the Don, for the first 
time threatened the sunny fields of France. 

With grim delight the brood of winter view, 
Serener skies, and fields of brighter hue. 

Exhale the fragrance of the opening rose, 
And quaff the pendent nectar as it grows. 

Then was seen the consummate policy and vast military genius 
of Frederick II. Unscrupulous and enterprising; annexing to 
his dominions provinces wrung from reluctant weakness, by 
the hand of conquest; and turning every incident of fortune to 
the profit of his own ambition. Then was waged on the soil of 
Flanders, the game of war, upon its mightiest scale, by the vic- 
torious Marshal Saxe. To this period belong the victories of 
Hawke and Vernon; the marvellous voyage of Anson, and the 
memorable fields of Dottingen and Fontenay; where the cruelty 
of mutual slaughter was strangely relieved by acts of politeness 
and courtesy. And in those days the romantic adventures of 
Charles Edward and the deplorable fate of his devoted follow- 
ers enlisted the sympathies, if not the approbation, of mankind. 
The treaty of Aix la Chapelle staunched the bleeding wounds 
of Europe; and like rivers which have overflowed their banks, 
carrying devastation among the homes of the affrighted inhabi- 
tants, the nations returned to their accustomed limits. All 
but the indomitable Prussian who retained Silesia in his iron 
grasp; a conquest, extorted in the day of misfortune, from the 
Empress Queen. And for what purpose had so many lives been 

270 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

sacrificed? For the pretensions of two rival candidates, to rule 
over the German people, as if they were the property of a master, 
like flocks and herds. And for an ignoble traffic, which the vic- 
torious party is now foremost to hold up to the scorn and exe- 
cration of mankind. 

But personal ambition was veiled under the semblance of a 
general principle; and the horrors of war were justified by a real 
or pretended care for the independence of sovereign states, and 
the preservation of the balance of power. But the events of 
a century have shown how vain were the schemes for which 
such sacrifices were exacted. In 1748 the Bourbons reigned in 
France, in Spain, in the two Sicilies, and the Duchies of Parma 
and Gustalla. The French flag waved in Canada, and the King 
of Spain stretched his sceptre from the river St. Mary to Pata- 
gonia. The confines of Germany obeyed an empress, and Bel- 
gium was a province; Sweden had not been despoiled of Finland 
by the audacious hand of Russia; the union of Denmark and 
Norway was undisturbed; Poland rejoiced in her independence, 
nor was yet the victim of the foulest deed which stains the annals 
of modern times. 

On the eastern side of North America thirteen colonies owned 
the British sway; and James Glen exercised executive authority 
in the name of George II in South Carolina. His civil juris- 
diction was, in fact, confined to a narrow strip of territory on 
the seaboard, reaching from the Waccamaw to the Savannah. 
Beyond Nelson's ferry lay the primeval forest, stretching across 
the continent, to the Pacific Ocean. Charles Town was a rival 
of New York in population and commercial importance; but 
Queen Street was the northern boundary, and the city scarcely 
extended beyond King Street on the west. 

The colonies exhibited great diversities in their forms, but 
the essential characteristics were nearly the same in all. Their 
life was obscure, they were occupied in laying the foundations 
of society, in overcoming the obstructions of the swamp and 
forest, in pursuing wherever the hope of gain might lead their 
traffic upon the sea, and in subduing the wilderness to the do- 
minion of the plough. Great was the contrast between them 
and the Spanish colonies. Here, rustic, or at least, industrious 
life, frugality and severity of manners. There, precocious es- 
tablishments, spoil, and the pride of domination. The wonders of 
Mexico and Peru dazzled the imagination, but the homely 
farms and every-day appearance of the small towns in North 
America, had no charms for the lovers of romance. For their 
literature they looked exclusively to the emanations of European 
genius. Jonathan Edwards was known only by his devotion 
to the duties of a pastor in the village of Northampton, and it 
was not until he published his Origin of Evil in 1754, that he was 
discovered to be a profound metaphysician. Nor had the 

James Louis Petigru 271 

genius of Franklin yet emerged from obscurity. It was four 
years later in 1752 that by his discoveries in electricity, he 
advanced the boundaries of knowledge and gained the first rank 
among the philosophers of the age. 

That age was not conspicuous for its literature. Men spoke 
of the time which the old still remembered, as the Augustan 
Age of Louis XIV. Yet Voltaire sustained the reputation of 
his country by the universality, if not the depth, of his genius, 
and in this very year Montesquieu presented to the world his 
unrivalled work on the Spirit of the Laws. In England no great 
poet had appeared since the succession of the House of Hanover. 
The tuneful voice of Pope was hushed, and he had left no suc- 
cessor. Johnson was working his toilsome way to the first place 
amongst the writers of his country, against all the discourage- 
ments to which men of genius were exposed, till literature was 
made popular, and the people took them under their patronage. 
His London had already been published; and though depressed 
by neglect, he had given evidence of the ability that after- 
wards raised him to the highest rank, as a critic of singular 
acumen, a profound teacher of moral wisdom, and the first of 

None of the great English Historians had yet appeared; and 
it was still literally true, that the best history of England was 
written by a Frenchman. It was from Rapin that the English 
youth continued to draw their information of the annals of their 
country, until the advent, at a later period, of Hume and Robert- 
son. But in Eloquence, the age was illustrated by the genius 
of Chatham, who was now in the prime of life, and culminating 
to the meridian of his fame. Yet, how strange does it appear 
that in a nation, studious of the models of antiquity, and cher- 
ishing an admiration for eloquence and oratory, there should be 
no speech of Bolingbroke on record; and that the oratory of 
Chatham which swayed the destinies of England, during a bril- 
liant period, is known only by tradition, sustained by meagre 
and unsatisfactory specimens! Nay, more, that in 1748, it 
was deemed a high breach of privilege to publish a speech made 
in Parliament. This absurd interdict of the publishing of pub- 
lic speeches was, in those days, practically enforced; and the 
orders of the two Houses were evaded by publications, which 
were ushered into the world as Debated in the Parliament of 
LiUiput. It was not until 1774, that this mummery was laid 
aside. But the rule has never been in form repealed, though the 
utmost latitude of publishing now prevails; being one of the 
victories gained by the reason of the age, over inveterate error 
and a bhnd attachment to exploded usage. Perhaps in another 
age, inconsistencies as gross, may be detected in our way of 
thinking, and something now tolerated by the public, may appear 
equally irrational a century hence, in the eyes of Posterity. 

272 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

In another branch of knowledge, and one most important to 
the general welfare, there was no declension. This was the 
Golden Age of the Law. The British Themis never received 
more unbounded homage, than when Hardwicke presided in the 
Court of Chancery. Then was given to public admiration the 
example of a Judge, eminent for wisdom and learning, command- 
ing by his reason, and indefatigable in the despatch of business. 
If Justice be the queen of virtues, in what combination shall true 
greatness be more convincing than in the character of a magis- 
trate, whose comprehensive mind embraces all the knowledge 
of the subject; whose reason is proof against the fallacies of error, 
and whose integrity clothes his judgment with the approving 
sanction of conscience. He was in the flower of his age in 1748, 
and held the Seals eight years longer, when he retired from the 
bench, without a blot on his judicial character. 

From this imperfect sketch of the state of things at the period 
when the foundation of the Charleston Library was laid, we 
would naturally pass in review the changes which have been 
operated by the lapse of a hundred years. But to the volumes 
of that Library, we must refer for the requisite information. 
There you may follow the stream of history from 1748, to the 
present day, and note the progress which has been made in 
learning, the discoveries that have been added to the stock of 
knowledge, and the alterations which have taken place in the 
circumstances of the world. But this is a task for years of study, 
and not within the scope of this occasion, not the abilities of the 
speaker. Suffice it to know that it has been an age of progress; 
and that, instead of the calm that in 1748 succeeded the peace 
of Aix la Chapelle, and vainly promised stability to thrones, 
and long years of repose to the people, the times are still ominous 
of change, and the year 1848 opens with a lowering sky. But 
there is no reason to doubt that the direction which has been 
given to the human mind, and which probably will lead to great 
events before the centennial anniversary of this Society is cele- 
brated again, will not be unfavorable to the diffusion of knowl- 
edge. In that persuasion, we may hope that humanity will be a 
gainer, by the impending changes. For it is the well known 
effect of learning, that it banishes ferocity, and prepares the mind 
for impressions favorable to innocent and harmless enjoyment. 

There is nothing in the political horizon to excite our fears for 
the permanence of this Society. It is connected with no party, 
and possesses no peculiar privileges. It is maintained entirely 
by the contributions of its members; levies no tax upon strangers, 
and interferes with no rival. The Library being the offspring 
of a popular association, is calculated to be useful to men of 
business, and general readers, without challenging a comparison 
with those great establishments, that have been endowed by the 
munificence of States or Princes. We have never partaken of 

James Louis Petigru 273 

the public money, and Mr. Benjamin Smith, who, in 1770, 
bequeathed to the Library, six hundred dollars, figures as our 
only Macaenas. Its collection of twenty-five thousand volumes, 
though considerable, if compared with the contents of its shelves 
sixty years ago, when three or four hundred volumes formed the 
whole of its .supply, is sufficient to place within the reach of its 
members, a variety of entertaining and instructive reading. If 
it has tended to elevate the taste of the city, and to diffuse the 
elements of useful knowledge, the hope of its founders has been 
realized. We may reflect with pleasure upon the evidences of 
its claim to public favor and consideration, upon these grounds. 
The charms of Literature have been celebrated by Cicero, in 
strains that are themselves a treasure, which neither time, nor 
change, nor loss of friends, nor even failing health, can destroy. 
But even his eloquence does not transcend the attractions which 
Literature confers on the intercourse of life. The love of read- 
ing is, by itself, better than a fortune, and the public library does 
incalculable good, by cultivating that taste. The increasing 
demand for the recreation of mental pleasures, will, in turn, 
enrich the library with greater stores of reading, and render it 
more and more worthy of the pride of the city. With hopes 
founded on such assurances, we look forward to the next Cen- 
tennial Anniversary. May our beloved city then be hailed as 
the Commercial Emporium of the South, and the Charleston 
Library rank among its flourishing institutions. 


Badwell, 29 August, 1848. 
My dear Sue: 

It rained in Augusta from 8 till one o'clock; then the Captain's 
buggy was put in requisition. As much of the baggage as it 
would hold was stowed into the Break; the Break went ahead 
with the blacksmith driving, three negroes following on foot 
and the Captain's buggy with one horse came, after the rain was 
over, in the rear. We had only to wait an hour at Dents Creek, 
the place where Ma and I in 1824 were stayed, by the refusal of 
our horse to proceed in harness. It was only a temporary flood; 
at the end of an hour the brook had fallen so much, much assisted 
by the Post-rider's horse and two of the neighbors, that had met 
there, who carried the womenkind over on horseback; with the 
nigs two on a horse, the Capt. and I having each a horse to him- 
self. We went only 16 miles that day. Two in a buggy is a 
very nice way of travelling; when parched by thirst we had to 
separate, one holding the horse while the other went to drink. 
It was 4 very near, when we arrived here; they were looking for 
us not very confidently. * * * 


Your Father. 


274 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 


Badwell, 11th September, 1848. 
My dear Sue: 

Your letter of the 2d inst. was received last Friday (8th) and 
this is the first mail since. I am delighted to hear that Ma has 
been able to come to dinner every day but Sunday; for your 
letter was a whole week after my departure. Would you guess 
where I have been? To Pendleton; on business to Mrs. Martha 
Calhoun. I left this place Monday the 4th, went to Abbeville 
and was pressed for an orator. The Ordinary, with whom I had 
something to do, called me off from the Will I was reading, to 
close his office, because Mr. Burt was going to address his con- 
stituents. I listened to him a long time and he concluded 
heavily against Gen. Taylor, and then they raised a cry "James 
L. Petigru, Petigru, Petigru," till I was forced to ascend the 
rostrum, and make a Taylor speech with a good deal of accepta- 
tion. Burt answered, and I was called again and replied good- 
humoredly,and it being nownear 5 o'clock, we adjourned to Judge 
Wardlaw's, where I dined and slept till midnight, when the stage 
came along and I got into it. Next morning I had the pleasure 
of seeing the thriving town of Anderson, which has been built 
since I was in that country, and at 12 was set down at Old 
Pendleton. The first person I saw was Mr. Bernard Bee, who 
took possession of me and carried me to his house. After dinner 
I moved to go back to the tavern and he accompany me, but on 
inquiring for a conveyance to Mrs. Calhoun's, he told me he was 
going with me in his buggy. We got there, before sunset. The 
next day we concluded our business, and I found he had engaged 
me to dine with Mr. Calhoun, the great Carolinian. There was 
nothing to do but obey, so I went and dined and heard Mr, C. 
talk, tho' I fear I did not give him as much of the conversation 
as he would have been pleased with; that is all. After dinner we 
resumed our buggy and when we got to the village, I told him I 
would leave him as I was going to Mrs. North's. "Oh," said 
he, "I am going with you," and he did, spent an hour, returned 
to his house and staid there. Next morning he would not let me 
go without a basket and flask. He could not be persuaded that 
I never wanted such a thing, as I never carried any with me, and 
I submitted. But when he produced a silver cup, I said, "Bee, 
you don't suppose I am going to take thatcup. " " Itisnecessary, " 
said he, " no way to avoid it and the driver will bring it back from 
Abbeville." Like the strong man well armed, when a stronger 
man cometh, I gave in. That same evening I reached Abbeville, 
staid at the Judge's and on Friday morning started with him, 
Lucy, Rosa and Lucia for Badwell. They stayed till this morn- 
ing. This is the whole of my history, except another Taylor 
speech in the Range, where the Captain carried me to hear a 

James Louis Petigru 275 

speech of Charles Pelot, and where I was obHged to mount the 
wagon,* which is the rostrum here, and hold forth on the merits 
of Gen. Taylor. This district goes for Cass for want of organ- 
ization. They have not a Taylor candidate in the field. Aunt 
Jane is well and Cary is well and everybody is well except Judge 
Wardlaw, who was sick all the time he was here. I will set off 
on Saturday and be in Charleston on Monday. Love to Mama 
and thank Henry for the papers he forwarded. Adieu. 

Your Father. 

Under date of December 14, 1848, he writes to Captain 
Thomas Petigru : * * * "The gold speculation in California will 
beat all the speculations of the age. It is a page of romance. 
If I was young I would have a share in the show. 

"Seabrook's election seems to be the winding up of the Nulli- 
fication drama. It is to be hoped that Carolina Chivalry has 
now paid its debts." 


Broad Street, December 22, 1848. 
My dear Jane: 

I received last night your letter and the Cap's, and I suppose 
the purchase of the old fields is by this time settled. Well it is 
what I have long desired. The two, nay three, great objects of 
my thoughts were to pay Mrs. Porcher, to build a good office in 
the alley and get Collier's place. For these purposes I have 
$11,000,' but Mrs. Porcher takes $6,000, the office $4,000, and 
Collier's $2,000, which is one thousand dollars more than the 
fund, and my affairs are not otherwise so bright as I could wish. 
But we will do what was proposed; all three of these objects will 
be accomplished, and great caution and redoubled exertions will 
enable me, I hope, to pay the rest of my debts. And tho' the 
old place will pay no rent, yet it will secure, I hope, sufficiency 
of corn and grass to make Badwell something of a home; the old 
place will pay no rent yet it will make my condition more com- 
fortable, and invigorate, I hope, my exertions. 

*The "Range" is the southwestern corner of Abbeville County, adjoining 
Edgefield; the inhabitants were small farmers called "Rangers"; the most suc- 
cessful industry was a still, that produced whiskey and peach brandy. On this 
occasion Petigru delighted his audience by taking off his coat, rolling up his 
sleeves, saying, " You all know I am a Ranger, too, " and continued to speak with 
the greatest wit and humor. This celebrated speech was for years with pleasure 
remembered by the Rangers. 

276 J-iJe^ Letters and Speeches 



James Johnston Pettigrew Arrived; The New Cabinet; 
Keeping the Peace; Retirement of Mr. Lesesne from 
the Firm 


Charleston, February 7, 1849. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * I never was more harassed than I have been this 
month. I had to argue some very heavy causes and to attend 
to a great deal of new business. Until the Courts adjourned on 
Wednesday, 31st ult., I had no rest nor leisure. The Court of 
Equity is sitting now, but I am much less harassed now than I 

On 28th January Hamlet* disappeared, and has not been since 
heard of. It is a very discouraging thing, and I would heartily 
agree never to see a negro again. He had fallen into great 
depravity and I am sorry to say had gone so far as to commit 
palpable thefts — taking money out of my purse and, at last, 
taking the purse itself. * * * Though I had not had him 
corrected, I intended to do so — and he anticipated my judgment 
by expatriating himself. * * * James Johnston Pettigrew 
arrived on Friday, 2d instant. Our house is full and he stays at 
his hotel, but is often with us. All you have heard of him is 
below his merits. Should his health be spared he will be one of 
the most considerable men of his age. His turn, however, is 
chiefly to science, but if he pursues his legal studies he will easily 
take rank with the greatest lawyers in America. Withal he is a 
youth of charming simplicity, and has gained the hearts not only 
of sister, but of Caroline, who was very improperly bent on dis- 
liking him. * * * 


March 13, 1849. 
On Saturday Mr. Crawford, the Secretary, passed through 
here. I intended to meet him at the railroad, in which I was 

*Hamlet, under the training of "Daddy" Lunnon, became an expert cook; as 
he did not like this occupation he obtained permission to become a carpenter, 
at which trade he successfully worked. After a time he became a preacher and 
a leader among his people. 

James Louis Petigru 277 

disappointed, but found him at the Pavilion, and carried him 
home, where he partook of a beefsteak, and we (the Captain and 
I) then saw him to the boat. On the way back the carriage 
broke down. Very fortunate for our credit that it did not occur 
while the Secretary was in it, * * * Mr. Polk has been here, 
as the papers have told you. I called on Mr. Polk, but did not 
go to his dinner, which was, on the whole, rather a slim thing. 
Not but that there was company enough, but the speeches were 
all very flat and in extreme bad taste. Mr. Burt passed through 
without stopping, and Judge Butler has not yet showed him- 
self. Everybody seems to be pleased with the new Cabinet, 
and the more because it is very new, no old stagers in it. I 
want to get a place for little Phil in the navy, and one in the rev- 
enue for William Ross, and it will be hard if I do not succeed. 


May 23, 1849. 

* * * My dear child, I am writing in great pain. A 
severe rheumatism has for days disabled my right hand. This 
is the first time since Friday last that I have attempted to put 
pen to paper, except to sign my name. I intended to write to 
Mary and if I do not she will know that it is because I am dis- 
qualified. Perhaps after going to Broad street and taking a cup 
of tea I may feel more equal to it. We moved into the new 
office on the 7th and it is without doubt the admiration, if not 
the envy, of the city. But I refer you to Carey for the auspi- 
cation of the building, which took place on the 5th. 

Our cousin, Johnston, will accompany Caroline and I think 
you will be very much pleased with him. He is a remarkable 
young man. I wish him to travel for two years, for he is quite 
too good for the beaten track of education, to do justice to his 
parts. Rare abilities should not suff^er for want of development 
and I would by no means have him pass for an unpolished 
diamond. I will give Carey dollars for old Tom and, 

that he may retail it accurately, I send it in silver. 


Winsborough, 12 July, 1849. 
My dear Sue: 

I had just sealed a letter to Ma, when the servant tapped 
gently at the door and being told to come in, to my utter aston- 
ishment produced a letter from you. You will not think it 
strange that I was thus surprized when you understand, that 
before I wrote to Ma last evening, I had gone to the Post Office 
as soon as the Court adjourned and asked for a letter, and was 
assured by the inaccurate postmaster in person, that there was 

278 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

no letter for me. This assurance he had given in the presence 
of Mr. DeSaussure and was, therefore, bound in honor to main- 
tain that I had no correspondence in his office. And after this 
public declaration, I think it is rather wonderful that he had the 
candor to retract the story that he had told. Whatever may be 
thought of the struggle, which pride and conscience carried on 
in the worthy postmaster's mind between keeping his word and 
doing his duty, the letter was most welcome and the pleasure was 
enhanced, when, from the date I saw that you were at Sullivan's 
Island. All the consequences, which Caroline and Louise repre- 
sented, would certainly attend a public demonstration of the 
want of cordiality or even of hospitable civility, between mem- 
bers of one family, who ought for so many reasons to be united 
in one sentiment. It is enough for the rich and grand to install 
Erinnys in their halls. Strife sits at the table of the great, just 
as satiety and ennui do, but, for poor folks, such a connexion is 
as distressing and as much out of place as low fare and want of 
appetite. * * * j heartily wish that I had so much influence 
over you as to effect that change which, I am sure, you must 
desire as much as I. I mean the change that is implied in 
acquiring such a mastery over oneself as to suppress the rising 
of passion under what is at the moment offensive or disagreeable. 
I asure you, my dear Sue, that until you effect such a reformation 
in your temper, your life will be "lost in quicksands and shal- 
lows." Time, that makes an end of our being here, makes 
amends by many good offices and particularly by assisting those, 
who conscienciously endeavor to check the sallies of a too suscep- 
tible temperament. But on the other hand, when there is not 
a sincere and pious effort to overcome the infirmity of a quick 
temper, age only aggravates the evil; and we too often see even 
among persons not naturally of a malignant or even an unamiable 
disposition, instances of old age under the influence of ungov- 
ernable temper, losing almost entirely the use of reason. Don't 
be impatient under this lecture nor think I am unjust because I 
am serious. I am not so unjust as to expect from a person 
naturally of warm feelings, the same circumspection, that is 
habitually easy to a mind differently constituted, or to disguise 
the difficulties of the struggle by which the triumphs of Temper 
are gained. But it is no reason for declining a duty, that it is 
not easy. If no duties but such as come quite easy to us are to 
be kept, there would be no great merit in doing well. I am 
sensible dear child that you have inherited from me, much of 
what I am anxious that you should correct and when I touch 
this subject, I do it, as one that would extract the thorn from 
his own flesh. There is no hope of my leaving this hot, weari- 
some place before Sunday. My love to Caroline and Louise; 
remember me to Henry. 

Your Parent. 

James Louis Petigru 279 


Columbia, November 27, 1849. 
* * * You will suppose that Henry's intention of retiring 
[Henry D. Lesesne, his partner] is extremely embarrassing to me. 
If I could make it agreeable to him to remain I would certainly 
do so; but if he retires I do not know what I will do. * * * 

The clients of the firm always desired Mr. Petigru to appear 
for them in court. Such being the case Mr. Lesesne felt that he 
was not doing his full share of the work, and desired to with- 
draw from the firm. 

280 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 



Calvary Churc i Riot; Compromise of 1850; Appointed 
U. S. District Attorney; Philadelphia on Law Business; 
South Carolina Legislature; Travels of J. J. Pettigrew. 

The year before the Missouri Compromise and Petigru's 
appointment as United States District Attorney was marked 
by his active, courageous check to the Calvary Church riot. 
The angry feelings produced by the efforts of both the Pres- 
byterian and Episcopalian churches to provide sound religious 
instruction to the negroes, culminated in a riotous attempt to 
destroy in December, 1849, the Episcopal Calvary Church, then 
in the course of erection. 

After prominent citizens had vainly appealed to the mob to 
desist, they sent for Mr. Petigru; he rushed from his office and 
from the steps of the City Hall indignantly remonstrated with 
the crowd: "How can you be such damned fools, as to attempt 
to destroy this Church, even if you have to set fire to the town. 
Have you not seen enough of fire here to be afraid of it? It is 
the only thing that decent men are afraid of ! Men, let us call a 
meeting; if you are right, I will go with you; if you are wrong, 
you will carry out your purpose over my dead body." Hesita- 
tion ensued, debate arose, a committee of fifty was finally 
appointed and the crowd dispersed. This committee after col- 
lecting information throughout the South, in April, 1850, at a 
meeting held at the City Hall, reported that the movement for 
the Christianization of the negroes was deserving of support. 
All danger of further violence was at an end. At this meeting 
the Honorable F. H. Elmore,* who had been appointed to fill the 
unexpired term of Calhoun in the U. S. Senate, moved the adop- 
tion of the report in an eloquent speech. He was a member of 
the Second Presbyterian Church and had always favored the 
project; he was expected to speak but to the surprise of the 

*He took his seat in the United States Senate on the 6th of May, 1850, and died 
twenty-three days later. 

James Louis Petigru 281 

meeting, Mr. Petigru rose to second the motion. It was such a 
speech as is not often heard; the Assembly was thrilled as he 
poured forth his feelings; but when he said, "The liberty of 
teaching was good and true to all men; why, sirs, that is what 
brought many of our fathers here," the audience was carried 
away with enthusiasm. Not many words were required to be 
added, and the question for the separate church for the negroes 
in Charleston was settled for all time. ^ 

By 1850 the slavery question had become such a burtiing isslie 
that in South Carolina secession was openly talked of; people 
became decidedly volcanic in their sentiments and Mr. Edward 
McCrady, who in 1834 had declined to take the oath of allegi- 
ance to South Carolina, resigned the office of United States 
District Attorney which he had held for ten years. In order 
that the operations of the court should not become obstructed, 
Daniel Webster, the Secretary of State, requested his friend Mr. 
Petigru, then the most prominent member of the Whig party in 
South Carolina, to recommend a man for the office. Not hav- 
ing been able to find a man willing to accept he was obliged to 
assume it himself. He appointed his son Daniel his assistant. 
He retained this office until 1854, when his successor, Mr. Thomas 
Evans, was appointed by the next administration. President 
Fillmore's recollection of this appointment was given in his letter 
of April 4, 1863, to J. C. Hamilton,* from which the following is 
an extract: 

Buffalo, April 4, 1863. 

According to the best of my recollection the district attorney 
of S. C. resigned about the time I came into office and knowing 
Mr. Petigru by reputation, I tendered to him the office which he 
declined, but recommended another man, whom I appointed 
but he declined or resigned, and after considerable inquiry no 
man was found who had the moral courage to accept the appoint- 
ment; so strong was public sentiment against my administra- 
tion and the union. I then made a personal appeal to Mr. 
Petigru, insisting that I must have a district attorney, for in the 
then feverish state of the country no one could tell how soon the 
services of such an officer would be indispensible to the adminis- 
tration of justice and the maintenance of law and order, and I 
urged him from patriotic motives to waive his objections, and 
submit to the sacrifice for the good of the country, and as an 

*The eldest surviving son of Alexander Hamilton, of New York. The Hamil- 
tons of New York and South Carolina are not related. 

282 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

act of personal friendship to me, and on this appeal he reluctantly 
consented to take the office, and was appointed and held the 
office during my administration, 

I regarded it then and do now as an act of moral heroism such 
as very few men are capable of performing, and which justly 
entitled him to my thanks and the gratitude of his country. 

He was indeed a truly noble man, and we shall scarcely look 
upon his like again. 

Petigru's letters concerning his appointment are in the 
Bureau of Appointments, Department of State: 


Charleston, 18 October, 1850. 
My dear Sir: 

I am unwilling to let the mail close without acknowledging 
the honor you have done me by your letter of the 15. Tho' I 
can not answer all the points that you refer to, till tomorrow, 
because I have not yet been able to see Mr. Bryan. It is essen- 
tial to have a supporter of the administration in the place of 
your law-officers here, and T really begin to fear that he will have 
something to do. But Mr. Kimhardt will not answer. The 
recommendations which he produced from Mr. Holmes must be 
set down to the influence of the hope, then pending on the 

With great and sincere consideration I am Dear Sir 


J. L. Petigru, 

TO president FILLMORE 

Charleston, 9 November, 1850. 
My dear Sir: 

The favor which you did me the honor of writing to me on the 
4th was not received till last evening, owing to my absence. I 
had already addressed a few lines to you expressive of my self 
reproach in introducing Mr. Whaley to the notice of your admin- 
istration. His rejection of the office renders it more difficult 
than ever to find a proper person for the place, and in these cir- 
cumstances I see no course for me to advise, better than to take 
the appointment myself. You may therefore consider me as 
retracting my first answer, and declaring my readiness to serve 
in the place of District Attorney till a satisfactory choice can be 
otherwise made. 

With the highest consideration. 
Yours truly. 

James Louis Petigru 283 

This is endorsed: 

Refd. to Secy, of State to make out a commission for Mr. 
Petigru and send it to me and I will enclose it to him. 

Nov. 12. M. F. 

During the excitement of 1850 Mr. Petigru had occasion to 
argue a case at Chester in the northern part of the State. Pass- 
ing through Columbia he took tea at the house of his friend, the 
Hon. Wm. C. Preston, then President of the South Carolina 
College. Chester was one of the most violent portions of the 
State and Mr. Preston cautioned him not to express his senti- 
ments unnecessarily. "Preston," said he, "I will endeavor to 
control the unruly member." Some days after he returned and 
again took tea at his friend's house in the College campus. 
After some conversation on other topics Mr. Preston asked if 
he had been so prudent as to follow his advice. "Why, sir," 
rejoined Mr. Petigru, "I had reached the point of departure 
and gave myself credit for unusual reticence when our friend 
Dunnovant proposed a drink and as we lifted our glasses said, 
' Mr. Petigru, let us drink to the health of South Carolina. ' For 
my life I could not avoid replying, 'With all my heart, and her 
return to her senses.' 

Of the dissolution of his law firm Petigru wrote feelingly on 
August?, 1850: 

I have said nothing of the dissolution of Petigru & Lesesne. 
It really was next thing in my feelings to a dissolution of the 
Union. I put it off in every way, and it never would have been 
done if Henry had not written the advertisement and brought 
it to me to sign. Henry King so far behaves as well as any one 
could do. Henry Lesesne is still in possession of his apartment 
and I wish him to stay as long as it is agreeable. 


Philadelphia, 12 Septr., 1850. 
Dear Children: 

Tho' it has been said of old times, that wonders will never 
cease, they can not fail to excite a strong emotion whenever they 
do happen; and no doubt everybody will be astonished and none 
more than Sue and Carey to see the Governor* outside of his own 

*W. A. Carson. 

284 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

Island. Yet, he is to be the bearer of this identical letter and 
the letter therefore, will be a test to show that you may believe 
your senses when you see him. I wish that we could return 
together, but I do not know the most eligible way of doing that. 
The Osprey will sail, I suppose, about a fortnight hence, but she is 
a dull thing as Carey knows, and a sailing packet, if we had such 
an one as the South Carolina with Capt. Hamilton, would be a 
better choice. But don't you all want to see Philadelphia again 
and will you not be drawn this way in spite of the dullness of the 
Osprey} * * * Gen. Hamilton is here and in very good 
spirits, as well he may be, for the Texan Boundary Bill will put 
money in his pocket,* to which, the said pocket is little accus- 
tomed. I rejoice myself in the settlement of the distracting 
questions, that have been before the country. Internal peace 
is now secured for my lifetime, as I believe, and I wish to leave 
the world without more broils, happy that those I am to see are 
no more. Adieu my dear children and write to 

Your Father. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

December 19, 1850. 

The difficulty of answering your letter of 26th November was 
not so much want of time or want of something to say as want 
of decision, for I could not make up my mind to say that I was 
not coming to Badwell this year. But the dreadful time has 
come when I can hesitate no longer. I came home on Wednes- 
day, which was yesterday, and found more business than I can 
do before Christmas and after Christmas I have not a day to 
spare to prepare for the Court of Appeals. So good-bye to 
Badwell for the year 1850. "Farewell to Lochaber, " but not, 
I trust, to the burthen of the same sad song, "We return to 
Lochaber no more." No, I would be miserable if I thought so. 
I shall only think of you the more because I can not be with you, 
and don't think that my solemn settled purpose to see Badwell 
every year is not to be depended on any more. Consider how 
many exceptions there are in this case — my trips to Philadel- 
phia and my unexpected detention in Columbiaf three weeks. 

There had been on the General's [Adams] part much foul play 
and he carried the day by eleven votes. It was easy to set aside 
the election, but Black claimed the seat and really proved him- 
self entitled to it, because he had a majority of the legal votes. 

*0n the admission of Texas as a State its scrip rose from 17 cents on the dollar to 


fThe Columbia expedition was to conduct before the committee on privileges 

and elections, in the Senate, a contest for the seat of the Richland Senator. 

The parties were Jo. Black, a native of Long Cane, and Gen. Adams of the Fork, 

as it is called — a peninsula between the two rivers Congaree and Wateree. 

James Louis Petigru 285 

But the practice of voting in writing by closed papers gives rise 
to many difficulties in getting at the truth in such cases and 
makes the Judges very unwilling to give the seat to one that did 
not show the majority of the ballots at the count. So, after 
examining more than one hundred witnesses the committee 
ended by setting aside the election and sending them both to 
the people to try a second ballot. 

Although I was there so long I never was in a house except at 
the college and the hotel and the State House. I saw Mr. 
Preston, who was greatly improved and thinks that he can go 
on with the administration of the college. He withdrew his 
letter of resignation and the trustees expressed their satisfaction 
in his doing so. Our friend J A is in college and a com- 
petitor for the first honor. He is another sort of person since 
last summer. He wished to visit you at Badwell and * * * 

I backed his request. But J suffers for the transgressions 

of his class. When they were all suspended last May it was a 
question among the trustees whether the faculty or the boys 
should suffer. Many wanted to acquit the boys and as a meas- 
ure of policy looked out for some good ground to censure the 
faculty. They hit upon the practice of allowing them to visit 
home at the Christmas holidays. It was an indulgence Mr. 
Preston was accustomed to grant without having the sanction of 
the rules which the trustees had made. They carried a resolu- 
tion, therefore, that the rules should be strictly adhered to about 
holidays and the consequence is the college at this Christmas 

will present a scene — I fear a bad one. J has promised to 

keep his room and read Livy instead of joining in any sport. 
The college is no place for merry Christmas and those who will 
make it a solemn day will conform best to the spirit of the time 
in such a place. 

As to the Legislature I saw nothing of them till Tuesday night, 
when my labors were over. I sat by Ben Martin watching their 
motions, which were as interesting as a wild flock or a flight of 
birds newly alighted in a ploughed field. They voted over and 
over again on the same thing — a State convention, and, though 
it was rejected several times, it was carried the next day, as I 
see by the papers. Mr. [B. F.] Perry told me there were not 
more than four or five Union men in the house. I am sorry to 
see that our friend, Henry Lesesne, is one of them. For why 
should all the thankless, unremunerating virtue fall to our side.'' 
I never spoke to Henry on the subject, and really supposed that 
he had taken the infection of the popular madness, when I was 
sadly undeceived by his votes. But harder even than that of 
the honest men is the fate of our friend, Memminger, who has 
said and done enough to lose himself with one sort, and is sus- 
pected by the other of being more conservative than he pre- 
tends to be. In one word they will not believe that he is a 

286 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

traitor, as Barnwell Rhett proclaimed that he was. This last 
gentleman, too, has his cup dashed with a bitter taste even in 
the act of raising it to his lips. There were but two candidates, 
Rhett and Hammond, and yet it required four ballotings to get 
an election. This could not have happened if so many people 
— about one-third of the whole body — had not thought that 
neither was fit for the place. Nothing is more calculated to 
inspire confidence in them that look for a reaction than this 
very circumstance. The whole Legislature, with very few 
exceptions, are declared disunionists, yet they object to Barn- 
well Rhett because he was so violent. I infer from this that they 
are not so mad as they affect to be, and that with a great deal of 
real malice there is also a good deal of acting. 

I have had a letter from Johnston,* who has returned to Berlin 
from a long excursion into Hungary. He gives me an account 
of his journey, but I must say that Johnston will have to pay a 
great deal of attention to style before he learns to write a good 
letter, and before he becomes an agreeable correspondent he 
must be more legible. In some parts he is as hard to construe 
as Barnwell Rhett, whose hand, you know, is no more accessible 
to common readers than Egyptian hieroglyphics. * * * 

*J. Johnston Pettigrew. 

James Louis Petigru 287 


Murder Case at Camden; His Nephew; Phil Porcher 

TO MRS. jane petigru NORTH 

[Camden] April 5, 1851. 
This is the second day of the Court and the Grand Jury has 
found a bill for murder against the person I have come to defend. 
We go into the trial in the morning and when you receive this 
letter you may suppose me surrounded by the dense crowd, 
whom business and curiosity have collected to hear this case — 
with Judge Wardlaw on the bench, and lawyers wrangling and 
witnesses swearing, and the prisoner, a young man, upwards of 
six feet high, sitting in the dock waiting for his fate. It is 
probable that the case will take two days, and I hope it will not 
take more, and if so I may get home on Friday, but Saturday is 
more probable. I never was here before. It is a stationary 
place. Some planters have good houses and there are 3,000 or 
4,000 inhabitants, and there is DeKalb's monument and the 
house that Cornwallis occupied, which is still called after his 
name. I found very good lodgings at the inn, which bears the 
name of the Wateree Hotel, and my old student, James Chesnut* 
is very obliging and attentive. But you must not confound him 
with the inn-keeper, for he belongs to the aristocracy, is one of 
the lawyers engaged in the case, a man of consequence here and 
in Columbia. 


April 22, 1851. 
* * * Our plans seem to be settling on an island residence 
again. I think sister has given up Virginia for a family that I 
have bought. A woman of very good qualities and five children. 
It has been a long discussion. I was much averse to it, but 
sister's perseverance and the poor woman's anxiety have carried 
the day. After she got into the house we could hardly do other- 
wise than purchase, though the price is like money thrown away, 
for an increase of servants is only an increase of expense. But 

*A United States Senator, 1860; and during the war Brigadier General and aide 
to Jefferson Davis. 

288 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

I doubt if one thousand nine hundred dollars worth of medicine 
would have done sister as much good. * * * 

I have forgot my taxes. You may pay all in your name, or 
pay for each distinctly, but let me request you to make the pay- 
ment. I can not pay here and do not wish to cheat the State; 
it is enough for the Secessionists to do that. 


May 14, 1851. 
My dear Sister: 

I have just returned from Washington, where I spent Thurs- 
day, Friday, and Saturday last. The first person I saw was 
Mr. Webster and the last was Gen. Scott. The very evening I 
arrived I called on the President and spent three hours with 
him, which he had the politeness to say that he could not have 
spent more agreeably. Our conversation was all about the 
State, however, and I made no interest with him for anybody. 
* * * Mr. Webster looks like a person who is breaking, and 
if he does not meet with rest I am afraid his strength will give 
way. * * * 

Gen. Scott arrived in Washington from a journey of forty days 
on Saturday and came immediately to see me. I was dining 
with Mr. Webster, but as soon as I came to my lodgings and 
heard it I posted off and found him at home and stayed with 
him a couple of hours. I did not beg for Phil, though I had it 
always in my mind and only wanted to make sure of my aim 
before I said anything. * * * 

I have said nothing of politics, but the general opinion here is 
decidedly against the late Convention, and there is no doubt 
that the public mind is cooling. * * * 


Charleston, 16 June, 1851. 
My dear Phil: 

By this mail you receive a communication fraught with the 
most important consequences, whether for weal or for woe, and 
which must seriously affect the future course of your life. It is 
nothing less than a notification from the Hon. Mr. Graham that 
you are to be admitted to the honor of standing an examination 
for the place of a midshipman in the U. S. Navy. I hope the 
examination will be no trial of your depth in letters, for they do 

*Philip Porcher graduated first in the class of 1855, of which T. O. Selfridge and 
E. P. Lull were members. He was lost in September, 1863, by the foundering 
of the Confederate blockade runner Juno^ on the voyage between Charleston 
and Nassau. His classmates, after the war, always spoke of him with the 
greatest respect and regard. 

James Louis Petigru 289 

not seem to think that much learning is requisite as a passport 
to the Steerage. Nevertheless, my dear Phil, as you have no 
time but what remains between this and October, to finish your 
grammar school education, you ought to redouble your exer- 
tions now, and lay in all the Latin and philosophy that you can 
master, before you go to sea. You will have an opportunity 
after you are admitted into the service, of learning geometry 
and something of astronomy. But, all that is taught in the 
naval school, has reference to science, as contradistinguished 
from literature. Now, the things which you will be taught with 
reference to your profession, are necessary and you will have to 
learn them, and they confer no distinction among nautical men, 
because they all know them, of course. But, the things, which 
are learnt at grammar school, Latin and Rhetoric and History 
and Geography and Logic are the marks of a polite education, 
and confer distinction on an officer that possesses them, which 
is very soothing to the natural feelings of men. Therefore, you 
should work now, as the farmer does, who has only a few hours 
of daylight, and must finish his task before the night closes in. 
From your conduct now, I shall draw an augury of what your 
future life will be. If you throw down your books and conceive 
that you are emancipated from the toil of thinking and have 
scope for enjoyment, without the fear of the schoolmaster, I 
will be sadly prepared to see you turn out a drone and a hanger- 
on upon the service. But I trust that very difl^erent feelings 
will occupy your mind, and that you will look upon the good 
fortune of gaining admission into an honorable career, as only 
valuable because it will enable you to rise to eminence and dis- 
tinction. It is true that all can not expect brilliant opportuni- 
ties. You may never have the good fortune to enter the harbor 
of Charleston with the wreath of victory suspended from your 
prow, but it is the spirit of emulation, the love of honor and a 
generous ardor for distinction, that makes a man's character 
and stamps him with superiority. We are not all equally fit 
for all things. You have hitherto discovered traits that imply 
an inclination for an active, rather than a studious life, and we 
have consulted the bent of your inclinations, by getting you a 
place in the navy where the love of action will have full room for 
development. But you must not suppose that an active life 
is the same thing as a life of enjoyment, much less of pleasure. 
No, far from it. The severest study is not more at variance 
with a life of idleness, than an active life with the pursuit of 
pleasure. You have chosen a profession, in fact, that is full of 
hardship, and the first steps are very slow and very heavy. It 
will require all your fortitude to keep from repenting of your 
choice, and to bear up under privation and weariness of spirit. 
But, honor is not honor for nothing, and if you can not suffer 
with patience, you will never know what it is to earn praise, and 

290 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

enjoy success. I hope, dear Phil, that our expectations of you 
will not be disappointed, and, as we have received this mark of 
Mr. Graham's kindness, at a time when our hopes were almost 
extinct, we may hereafter bless the day that brought his warrant, 
as the commencement of your rise and progress in the navy. 
Study history and rhetoric, and improve yourself as if you never 
forgot that life is a duty, and that there is no sure road to happi- 
ness, but by the path of duty. You must take care to write to 
Mr. Graham immediately. You must address it to the "Honbl. 
W. A. Graham;" begin, "Sir" or "Honored Sir," and say, "I 
feel highly honored by your official note of the 10th inst., con- 
veying a notice of the great favor done me, by allowing me to be 
examined for admission into the Navy of the United States as a 
Midshipman. I beg you to receive, with my sincere thanks, the 
assurance, that I will accept with pride of the offer, and not fail 
to appear at the examination," and sign yourself "Your Obt. 
Servt." Having filled the sheet, I have nothing more to say 
than that, I am, dear Phil, 

Your affectionate uncle, 

J. L. Petigru. 


December 9, 1851. 
They are going to call a Convention. I always thought they 
would; and the Convention can only do mischief. How much, 
no one can tell. We ought to give thanks, with grateful hearts, 
that the rest of the country is imbued with more sense and a 
higher notion of social duty than South Carolina. 

James Louis Petigru 291 



Crying Speech; White Sulphur Springs; Death of Mr. 
Webster; Calhoun Monument 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, January 8, 1852. 

* * * u has abandoned his appeal and I have not 

to repeat my crying speech, and Mrs. W , relieved from 

suspense a fortnight sooner than we expected, embarked on 
Thursday for Philadelphia, with her children. You can not 
conceive how great the relief was to me, who was in terror about 
speaking again, when my first speech had been praised so ridicu- 
lously beyond its merits. * * * j embrace the sisterhood 
and girlhood, embracing Mary Blount with the other Marys and 
remembering Cedar Hill, while commemorating Badwell; and 
including Louis in the parental sentiment, with which I am, 
dear Jane, 

Your Brother. 

Mr. Petigru was never commonplace. In listening to him 
evenfupon ordinary occasions one felt the power of a high moral 
nature and of a superior mind. At times he rose to greatness. 
One of these efforts the writer enjoyed the privilege of hearing, 

his speech in the case of Mrs. W , mentioned in the above 

letter. Driven to desperation by cruel treatment she had fled 
with her children from her husband's roof under the protection 
of two gentlemen of the vicinity and taken refuge in the city of 
Charleston. The husband followed and took out a warrant 
totkeep the peace against the gentlemen who protected her, 
under color of which the constable possessed himself of the chil- 
dren. She at once came to Mr. Petigru, who sued out for her a 
writ of habeas corpus. The case was heard at Chambers before 
Judge Whitner. There was no crowd who could be roused to 
madness and carried off their feet by contagious sympathy. 
Besides the parties interested, a few lawyers and students con- 
stituted the audience.' In view of the notorious unfitness of the 
husband in this instance Mr. Petigru contended that the Court 

292 Ltje^ Letters and Speeches 

would at least replace the parties in the position in which they 
were before the illegal act of the constable. When he rose it was 
evident from the convulsive movements of his lips how intensely 
he felt; and when, after enumerating simply and evidently with 
suppressed emotions, the various acts of brutality to which his 
client had been subjected, he pointed to her as she sat beside him, 
soon to become again a mother, and asked whether the child 
unborn should be seized by such a father? Judge Whitner, 
who was of a very tender heart, wept until the tears streamed 
down his cheeks and there was scarcely a dry eye among the 


BroadStreet, July 17, 1852. 

* * * The Gen. Pierce who is the Democratic nominee is as 
obscure a man as any person in the United States that ever was 
a Senator or general. He was, years ago, a Senator from New 
Hampshire, where he lives. Since that time he has been a 
general in Mexico. He is a drinking gaming sort of person, 
opposed to the religious tendencies of his age and country, and 
as in Catholic countries Atheists pass for or shelter under the 
name of Protestants, Pierce is covered by the mantle of the Con- 
stitution and by opposition to abolition and free soil. It will be 
a singular thing if the Whigs carry two elections in succession, 
and very singular if both candidates are from New Hampshire. 
But I predict that Gen. Scott will be our candidate; and Mr. 
Webster will not be nominated by the South, because he can not 
get the North. There again is a strange display of the want of 
reason in reasonable beings. The North are prouder of Mr. 
Webster than of any other man among them, yet in the distribu- 
tion of honors both parties give him the go-by and pitch upon 
common men. We have heard nothing yet from the Whig Con- 
vention, but I predict that the news will be carried up by Har- 
riet, if she stays a night in Augusta, for I think they will get 
through their nomination today. It is my fate to go to Virginia, 
and I presume Sue will go with us. My love to the sisterhood 
and childhood all round. 

Your Brother. 

to alfred huger 

White Sulphur Springs, 8 Sept., 1852. 
My dear Huger: 

* * * Singleton has been ailing since Sunday last. We 
can not get him to see a doctor, and he has only just consented 

James Louis Petigru 293 

to take a blue pill of my wife's prescription. When urged about 
a doctor, he repeats John Randolph's sentence, who consoled 
himself on the death of a valuable overseer on hearing that he 
had not seen a doctor, saying, that he must submit since the 
man had a fair chance. The company is dwindled down to 150 
or 200. We will stay a week longer at least, and then, probably 
to the Warm Springs for as long. * * * 

There has been more than one fuss out here, and our country- 
men each time, had a hand in it. Indeed there are more South 
Carolinians here than any others; many more than I know. 


Charleston, October 27, 1852. 
My dear Jane: 

I am ashamed of being at home four days without writing. 
We arrived on Friday night (22d). There was a great deal to 
hear and see, and on Monday came the news of Mr. Webster's 
death, which I confess weighed me down under the influence of 
many conflicting emotions. I could not but think how great a 
man he was, how true to the great interests of his country, and 
how little justice he had received, at least from our countrymen. 
He had given a proof of disinterestedness which no man from this 
State ever gave. He had off"ended his friends in maintaining 
an unpopular cause. And what is truly discouraging, as far as 
reputation in this latitude constitutes fame, he was not so well 
off as even to be neglected, but was actually represented by 
those, who had never given an instance of disinterestedness in 
their lives, as a selfish politician. Pondering on his life, and the 
close of his career so soon after that of Mr. Clay, was enough, I 
think, to justify a feeling of discouragement. * * * 

Mr. Petigru's manners were warm and hearty; often impul- 
sive, and sometimes bordering even upon the hilarious; and yet 
no man stood more upon social form and ceremony than he did. 
I remember on one occasion a young gentleman in the ofiice 
announced to him that "Colonel" Grayson had called. In- 
stantly, with an expression of assumed distress upon his face, he 
said to him: "Augustus, spare him. I am sure he never held a 
commission in his life and would feel like a dove in epaulettes." 
On another occasion a student in the ofiice* had nursed a virgin 
beard into a hopeful growth. One day Mr. Petigru stopped, 
looked at him with a twinkle in his eyes and said to him: 
"Julius, shave; were you a young cornet of horse I should say 

*J. B. Allston. 

294 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

nothing, but for one following a civic profession to carry a 
bearded face is not good form." 

During the winter of 1852 there was great rivalry among the 
schoolboys in the collection of funds for the Calhoun monument. 
Mr. Petigru disapproved of giving tips to children, and as he 
generally spoke to them in an ironical manner, they invariably 
stood in great awe of him with the exception of his elder grand- 
son, William, who was somewhat devoid of veneration. Wil- 
liam boldly asked him for some money for the monument. 
Taking from his pocket two old coins worth twelve-and-a-half 
cents (called a sevenpence) he gave one to each of the boys, and 
said," Willie, I hereby authorize you and James to contribute 
six and a quarter cents apiece to the fund for the monument of 
John C. Calhoun, and the six-and-a-quarter cents remaining 
are left to your own ingenuity; you can put them in your 

James Louis Petigru 295 



Visit to Governor David Johnson; the Kohne Case; 
"The Busy Moments of an Idle Woman" 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, 10th September, 1853. 

You see, my dear, that my peregrinations are over at last and 
I may add that I landed safely on the Island in the 3 o'clock 
boat yesterday. The course of things after Louis and I parted 
was generally smooth, though we found the Pacelot River rough 
and crossed by the exposure of the horses to risks that I would 
not have exposed mine to, and by sending over the baggage in a 
canoe, and following ourselves in a second trip, crouching in 
bottom of the frail bark and looking with fearful eyes at the 
rapid current that could have swallowed us up in a twinkling. 
The good old Governor* was rejoiced to see me, and I stayed 
with him two days, and in a great measure persuaded him to 
come and spend the next winter in Charleston. In this respect 
I think my visit was of some value to him in increasing his con- 
fidence in the friendship of the people here. There was nobody 
with him but Mrs. David Johnson, his son's wife, and her sister, 

Miss W , a young lady that has been to Washington, and 

learned to talk like a book. * * * 

I embrace the girls, and, commending myself to the Cap- 
tain's recollections, am, my dear sister, as ever, affectionately, 

Your Brother. 

Instead of setting down our case for the first Monday it stands 
for the third Monday of October. Therefore I shall not leave 
home as soon as I expected. 

On the 12th of September, two days after the date of this 
letter, James Louis Petigru, Jr., was accidentally drowned in 
Little River, on his father's farm of Cedar Hill, age 21. 


St. Michael's Alley, November 8, 1853. 
* * * You will hear that I argued the questions growing 

♦David Johnson, Dec. 1846-Dec. 1848. 

296 l^if^i Letters and Speeches 

out of Mr. Kohne's will, on the issue of which a good deal 
depends, and that we carried our point and had the bill dis- 
missed. But the Judge did not pronounce a masterly decree 
and show the adversaries how untenable their position is. 
Therefore, it is probable that they will appeal and carry the 
case to Washington, where it will not be heard until 1855, if 

In the arbitration case I had the satisfaction to find that Mr. 
Cuyler was right and the award was unanimous. It disposed of 
$40,000. I was very sorry that Mr. Morse, the inventor of the 
telegraph, was a loser, perhaps the heaviest loser, by it, though 
the management of the matter and much of the interest belonged 
to the famous Amos Kendall and the award condemned his acts 
as illegal. * * * 

The case was heard in Philadelphia. Mr. Eli K. Price, of 
Philadelphia, as attorney of some relative of the testatrix, 
opposed the acts of the executors, who employed as their attor- 
neys in Philadelphia Mr. Guerard, and in Charleston Mr. James 
Louis Petigru. Finally, Mr. Price succeeded in getting his 
contest before the United States Supreme Court in Washington. 
Mr. Guerard informed the executors that he could not go to 
Washington, as Mr. Petigru was the man for the occasion. Mr. 
Ravenel called on Mr. Petigru and told him of the necessity of 
his arguing the case before the Supreme Court. Mr. Petigru 
promptly refused to do so. Mr. Ravenel urged him. "Why, 
Ravenel," said Mr. Petigru, "shall I go and risk my little repu- 
tation against those giants in Washington.^" After a pause Mr. 
Ravenel said: "Mr. Petigru, if you go to Washington a fee of 
$10,000 is yours." Mr. Petigru was seated; he was still for a 
few moments in deep thought. He arose and paced the room 
for a few minutes in silence, and then said: "The village lawyer 
can not resist a fee of $10,000. Ravenel, I believe you are try- 
ing to rob the church, but I will go." He went, and won the 

Mr. J. Prioleau Ravenel kindly furnishes two incidents con- 
nected with this case. 

Mrs. Kohne left as her executors Dr. Meigs, of Philadelphia, 
and Mr. William Ravenel, of Charleston. Dr. Meigs said that 
all of the wine of the estate, which should have been a large 
quantity, was by Mrs. Kohne's will to be divided between her 
two executors. Mrs. Kohne was in the habit of leaving Phila- 

James Louis Petigru 291 

delphia frequently and for months at a time. Her colored ser- 
vants, in her absence, used to occupy the whole house and keep 
high carnival. 

When the wine was to be divided, it was found that every 
bottle had been emptied of its rich contents and filled with water, 
except one. The Doctor also said that Mr. Ravenel, with great 
self-denial and courtesy, had insisted upon his accepting the 
only evidence that the estate was in possession of wine, the one 
bottle found. 


St. Michael's Alley, 18 November, 1853. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * You have burst upon me as an author* almost as 
surprisingly as Miss Burney did on her unsuspicious parent. So 
little was I anticipating such a thing, that, if Caroline had cared 
to preserve the incognito, I don't know but what I may have 
gone through it as innocently as Ma, who thinks it very good, 
but has never asked a question about the authorship, consider- 
ing that the name would be to her a sound without meaning, 
just the same as the information that the book was the work of 
somebody. I have no doubt you will receive a great deal of 
praise, for the dialogue is witty and sparkling, and the descrip- 
tions circumstantial and striking. I dare say that if you were 
to take to study, you might, in time, attain to the delineation 
of the passions and rise to the walk in which Miss Austen is 
admired. But it is something to do as much, though in a lower 
style of art, and tho' your performance is indebted for its success 
to the initiation of temporary evanescent modes of behaviour 
and can hardly be expected to survive the present fashion, it will 
be remembered longer than anything that any of the rest of us 
have done. And that is something that lays your kin under an 
obligation and is felt with pleasure mixed with pride by 

Your Father. 

P. S, — I believe that the interest would be better kept up by 
standing in the reserve and making the authorship a sort of 
secret. It can't be more, considering how many are in the plot. 

*"The Busy Moments of an Idle Woman," Harpers. The name was suggested 
by her sister, Mrs. Carson. 

298 I^ife^ Letters and Speeches 



Borrowing Money for Client; Case at Walterboro; 
Speech at Semi-Centennial of South Carolina College; 
Dinner with Governor Manning; Preventing a Duel; 
The Genus "Rice Planter"; Grayson's Poem 


Charleston, January 28, 1854. 

* * * I had just been reading your letter, and recollecting 
what you said of Charles only needing more negroes to make as 
much money as he pleased, was inclined to wish that Dick's 
thirty-six negroes were on the lake. But when I reflected that 
negroes are now six hundred dollars a head, I thought that I 
would always rather see a stranger buying at that price than a 
friend. Our friend Phil has been buying out his neighbor, 
Hedley — $8,000 for the whole subject. I suppose it is a saving 
purchase, because he can sell the negroes and keep the land at a 
low figure. * * * 

I was in Savannah a month ago to-day. It was to give Cliffy 
Postell* away and give the ceremony all due honor that I yielded 
to their wishes and went on Monday and returned on Wednes- 
day night's boat. They are now all here. Mr. and Mrs. King have 
behaved very handsomely by the young lady. They have 
received her with warmth and all her family with attention. 
* * * You seem to think I am bound for Washington, which 
is not so. I have no design to see it before next January, when 
Mrs. Kohne's case is to be argued. * * * 

Your affectionate Brother, J. L. P. 

It was about this time in his practice that an incident occurred 
which illustrates the felicitous manner in which he disarmed 
opposition by a happy remark. J. Harleston Read, Jr., was for 
years a member of the Legislature from the parish of Prince 
George Winyah. Colonel Commander was a prominent local 
politician in that section, and Mr. Read had gone on his bond. 
There was default in the payment, and Mr. Petigru was em- 

*Mrs. Petigru's niece, Miss Clifford Postelle, married Mr. J. Gadsden King. 
Their son, Alexander C. King, is a distinguished lawyer of Atlanta, Ga. 

James Louis Petigru 299 

ployed to sue the bond. So busy was he in Charleston that he 
very nearly forgot all about the Georgetown Court. Late on Sat- 
urday he remembered the engagement for Monday, and taking a 
carriage drove to the Thirty-two-mile House and thence, early 
on Monday morning, reached Georgetown in time for Court. 
The first person he met as he descended from the vehicle was 
J. Harleston Read, Sr., who advanced toward him with out- 
stretched hand, saying: "Why Mr, Petigru, what has brought 
you to Georgetown?" "I have come," said Mr. Petigru, cor- 
dially grasping his proffered hand, "I have come to help our 
friend Harleston to pay his debts." 


St. Michael's Alley, July 29, 1854. 

* * * I have been preparing to leave and have got nearly 
everything ready — even to summer reading. I bought this 
morning "Dr. Kane's Expedition to the North Pole in Search 
of Sir John Franklin," which I thought would be an agreeable 
solace of the dog days. * * * 

I hope, dear Jane, to embrace you all in a little more than a 
week, and in the meantime let sisterhood and girlhood and every- 
thing that has a hood, down to little Scuppernong, be assured of 
the sympathy and love of, dear Jane, 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, November 13, 1854. 

* * * My dear sister, I am in great trouble; my speech for 
the 4th December is not yet written,* and my mind is not 
warmed with the subject. I am in dread about it. But T must 
shake off the incubus of irresolution and set to work, 


Columbia, December 2, 1854, 
My dear Jane: 

* * * I completed the draft of my speech before I left 
town. I am to deliver it on Monday, after all the boys have 
spoken. It will not be long and if it was, it would have been 
shortened; for, after seven speeches from those in whom the 

*This was the address he had been asked to dehver on the occasion of the 
fiftieth anniversary of the South Carolina College. 

300 J^ife^ Letters and Speeches 

audience take a great interest, it will be rather difficult to 
bespeak attention for one that they care nothing about. 

So, Mary, like one of those wise virgins, had oil in her lamp to 
burn a whole week, under Mr. Baker's preaching. I do not 
wonder that you found him impressive. He is a great orator. 
It is a gift. In my speech I shall celebrate just such another — 
George Davis — who died very young. 

It is hardly worth mentioning that I came here with a violent 
cold. My speech in the Federal Court was more exhausting 
for that reason. But I went, after court adjourned, to the 
Governor's* to dine, and whether it was the wine or the compli- 
ments, both of them being what I was not used to, at least for 
ten days before, I came away a great deal better, and am still 
improving. Judge Butler was one of the party. He left this 
morning. He is still as good company as ever, tho' he looks a 
good deal older every time I see him. As soon as my exercise at 
the College is over I am going home and expect very soon to be 
called off to Washington. Johnston, in the absence of his 
partners, carries on the business of the office with success. It 
is a matter of doubt whether Dr. Thornwell will be allowed to 
quit the College under a year, as he is bound to give a year's 
notice. We are very unwilling to part from him, not knowing 
where to turn when he leaves us. It is to be decided tonight. 
Adieu; love to Mary and the children, and, dear Jane, the 
affection is yours of 

Your Brother. 

to william elliott 

St. Michael's Alley, 9 Deer., 1854. 
My dear Elliott: 

There is a blind quarrel, growing out of a dispute about a 
bridge, between Dr. DeSaussure and our friend, William Hey- 
wardf of Pocotaligo, a neighbor and friend of your son. A 
young gentleman of the name of Hutson is likely to come in as a 
combatant and he and Hey ward will be likely to fight, if friends 
do not intervene. The only way to do it is, to apply to the 
Seconds, making a call on them to submit the matter in debate 
to a board of honor. Heyward's friend is George B. Cuthbert. 
Who is likely to be Hutson's, I don't know. If you would get 
some of the gentry thinking like you, to interfere with you and 
call on the Seconds strongly, they would be sure to obtemperate 
to your views and save the effusion of blood. But such things 
can only be done by men of weight and I don't know anybody 
but you, who could in that region assume to lead in such a 

*Gov. John L. Manning, 1852-1854. 

fOn account of his irascibility he was known as "Tiger Bill." 

James Louis Petigru 301 

course. The whole quarrel is ridiculous. Dr. deSaussure sued 
Heyward for his horse, which shied at the bridge and ruined 
some of his legs. Heyward says the bridge is a capital bridge 
and the horse notoriously scary. He, planter like, took no notice 
of the Writ and the case was tried without a defence. Such a 
thing always breeds ill will; taking a judgment on ex parte evi- 
dence is sure to create fresh quarrels, unless the defendant meant 
to submit to the very thing which the plaintiff wanted. Hey- 
ward, in consequence, is so morbid, that, not content with 
talking of what he considered a mean thing, he stuck up pla- 
cards about deSaussure and Hutson, his witness. Hence the 
trouble. I know that I am taking a very strange step, to invite 
you to so troublesome a part, without even knowing whether 
your opinion of Mr. H. is in agreement with my own. But in 
the cause of benevolence, some risk must be run, if a body would 
do any good and I am very sure you will make all allowance for 
my precipitancy. The standing of the quarrel between Hey- 
ward and Hutson would necessitate a settlement all round and 
prevent what is even worse than a duel — an action for defam- 
ation of character. I hope that you are at home and enjoying 
this fine weather. 

Yours truly, 


Charleston, 14 December, 1854. 
My dear EUiott: 

I can not sufficiently express the thankfulness that I feel, in 
reading your letter of yesterday, to think there is, at least, one 
man of heart, to interest himself about what concerns a fellow 
mortal, though it concerns him in no other way. I have no 
doubt that your intervention will be efficient. I don't wonder 
that you had received no answer yesterday, for, the cartel 
had not been exchanged. You understand, my friend, W. H., 
as well as if you had studied his life. He is, in fact, a live speci- 
men of the genus Planter, with many robust and sterling quali- 
ties, which have been kept obscured by the solitary life of people 
that live in the forest. There is no doubt he is wrong in the 
invectives, for I can call them nothing else, into which, he has 
been provoked by losing the game at law in consequence of very 
close play. But, I sincerely hope that you will bring Dr. 
deSaussure's case under the same pacification with the rest of the 
quarrel and without opening the Verdict, for tho' he wants the 
Verdict opened, that would be to stir the embers of the quarrel 

* * * By the way, my Address or Essay, before the Col- 
lege, will be printed and you will see a great deal about solidarity 

302 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

in it. Have you heard of our friend Grayson's poem?* It is 
truly something surprising. The easy flow of his verses would 
imply a long proficiency in the art and his sylvan and aquatic 
scenes are truly worthy of the pastoral wreath. We both figure 
in it and there are some lines which will, probably, be put to the 
credit of some of his quondam nullifying friends. I would be 
too happy to spend Christmas or any holiday with you, but, on 
Saturday morning, I take the cars for Washington, to argue a 
case in the Supreme Court. Wish me luck, for, much depends 
on it for the future of 

Your friend, 

"Semi-Centennial Celebration 


South Carolina College." 


delivered by 

Hon. James L. Petigru. 

charleston, s. c. 

W^alker & Evans, Stationers & Printers 


When Alexander the Great complained of his illustrious mas- 
ter, for having exposed philosophy to the knowledge of the vul- 
gar, he uttered a sentiment familiar to antiquity, and in com- 
plete unison with the spirit of the age. The principle of exclus- 
ion pervaded all early societies; hence distinctions of caste — of 
classes — of orders and sects. Even superstition had erected no 
bar against common right; opinion in some degree, supplied the 
place of laws, and the learned who considered themselves a class, 
were little disposed to share with the multitude the accomplish- 
ments by which they were honorably distinguished. Such was 
the spirit of antiquity, and such the way of thinking in the 
Middle Ages. But since the revival of letters, there has been a 
steady and progressive tendency, to a more liberal view of 
social duty. Society is thought to owe more to its members, 
and individuals are taught their solidarity in the duties which 
unite society. Government is held responsible for the evils 
which it has the power to remove, but suffers to exist; and the 
duty of government is the exponent of that obligation by which 
all the members of society are bound to one another. 

It is consoling to reflect on the changes which have been oper- 
ated in a long course of years by the influence of this principle. 
The debtor, the lunatic, and the criminal have felt the frequent 
influence of the change. 

*"The Hireling and Slave," John Russell, 1854. 

James Louis Petigru 303 

Misfortune is no longer confounded with crime; the barbar- 
ous laws that submitted the debtor to the cruelty of his creditor, 
after having long excited the abhorrence of mankind, are by 
general consent laid aside. The sphere of charity is extended 
to the inmates of the asylum; and force is restrained even against 
those who are bereft of reason. Nor is crime itself excluded from 
the pale of humanity. For ages no voice was raised in favor of 
the vanquished and the weak, except in Schools or Churches; 
but now, statesmen have learned to venerate Humanity, and the 
people to feel for the rights of their common nature. But 
nowhere is the triumph of Humanity more signal than in this, 
that the obligation of educating the people is now freely acknowl- 

It was no proof of narrow bigotry then on the part of the 
magnanimous Conqueror and Builder of cities, to consider 
philosophy the privilege of greatness; and ignorance the proper 
lot of all who were not raised by fortune above the reach of 
sordid cares. Such was the sentiment of the age in his time; 
and if a more liberal and generous way of thinking characterizes 
the opinions of rulers in the present day, we are indebted for the 
change to the spirit of the age in which we live. But the spirit 
of the age itself depends no little on the state of education. 
Public opinion does not represent the ideas of the majority; for 
the majority is made up of individuals who do not think alike. 
The diversity of private sentiment is endless and proverbial; 
but public opinion is something definite and intelligible, not a 
mere aggregation of inconsistent things. It is a motion pro- 
duced by the collision of opposing forces — a spirit distilled from 
the fermentation of various elements but differing from them all. 
And the spirit of the age represents not the opinions of any par- 
ticular portion of the civilized world; but the general tendency 
of the human mind at a particular era. But education is the 
external power that gives activity to the intellect, which pro- 
duces that fermentation of the mind out of which opinion pro- 
ceeds. Therefore the spirit of the age is modified by education 
and an improvement in education is not only a positive gain, but 
an evidence of general progress — for as education improves, the 
spirit of the age will partake of that improvement. 

But of all social improvements, the greatest is the diffusion of 
light — the increase of the educated class. To educate is to 
civilize — and to add to the number of educated persons, is to 
advance the boundaries of civilization. To educate is to develop 
the faculties of the human understanding; and to extend the 
blessings of education, by making it universal, is to raise the 
people in the scale of being. Who, then, can doubt that it is a 
duty to educate the people, or deny that the obhgation which 
this duty imposes is binding on the high and low, the governors 
and the governed? This is solidarity. It is the bright side of 

304 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

Democracy, and if Egotism and Envy could be chained below, 
there would be but one opinion of it. 

It was in the year of 1801 that the initiative was taken in the 
first Legislative Act for founding this College. The period is 
remarkable as corresponding with a transfer of civil power — 
with a revolution that changed the relations of the parties which 
then divided— perhaps to some small degree may still divide the 
opinions of men^ — if not in this, at least in other States. It was 
in a House of Assembly, where the victorious party held yet only 
a divided rule; and their adversaries, though vanquished, still 
kept the field; that this great measure was originated. It came 
like the last will and testament of the expiring party; and 
sounded like a proclamation of the conquerors, announcing the 
terms granted in the hour of victory. It is fortunate to find 
hostile parties agreeing in a great principle. Indeed it is a proud 
reflection that whatever may be the extravagance or madness of 
party, opposition to learning is no instrument of popularity in 

But though the spirit of our countrymen is too high for an 
alliance with ignorance, there were not wanting objections, 
both popular and specious, to the endowment of this College out 
of the public Treasury. The immediate benefits of a college are 
received by those only who are educated in it; the number of 
these must necessarily be few; and the assistance which they 
derive from the State, is a species of Protection, rendered still 
more invidious by the fact, that it is in a great measure confined 
to those who are already in a more eligible situation than the 
generality. In such circumstances the opportunity for appeal- 
ing to prejudice was too favorable to be neglected. The pittance 
wrung from the hard hand of reluctant poverty it was said, was 
to be lavished on the education of the rich. Those who were in 
possession of the advantages of education were to levy a tax on 
the poor, to perpetuate those advantages by educating their 
sons at the public expense. The majority were to bear their 
full proportion of the Burthen, but the recompense was most 
unequally distributed. And these topics might be urged with 
more show of reason, because there was then no provision for 
common education by means of Free Schools. It was hard 
that the rich should be assisted by the public treasury in giving 
their sons an education suitable to their situation in life; while 
the children of the poor were taught at their own expense. It 
was strange, that the State should come to the aid of the rich; 
and leave the poor unassisted to struggle with their difficulties. 
With that class of politicians who think that the public welfare 
is best promoted by leaving every man to take care of himself; 
and with all those who disclaim a Solidarity in the obligation of 
the State to its members, these objections might have had great 

James Louis Petigru 305 

weight. Let us do justice to the wisdom and foresight of the 
men of 1801, who rejected such ungenerous counsels. 

It is our grateful task to commemorate the virtues of our 
Founders — to celebrate the triumph of liberal principles over a 
narrow, egotistic policy and to mingle our congratulations over 
the fiftieth anniversary of the day when South Carolina College 
welcomed the first student to its hospitable halls. If any doubts 
were entertained of the expediency of establishing this seat of 
learning at the public expense they have long since disappeared. 
No one now doubts that it is the duty of the State to make liberal 
provision for the higher branches of education. Such provision 
must be made by the State, because such establishments are too 
costly for individual enterprise. The enterprise of individuals, 
sustained by the prospect of commercial profits, may scale the 
mountain barriers that vainly interpose their heights to the 
invasion of the Engineer and the progress of the Railroad. But 
the hills of Parnassus are proverbially barren and literature 
tempts no capitalist with the hope of dividends. Without the 
patronage of the State it would be impossible to erect the costly 
buildings, to collect the learned men and supply all the materials 
requisite for a seat of learning adapted to a high and compre- 
hensive seat of study. And if it be asked for what use such a 
college is wanted the answer is that such an establishment is 
necessary to the progress of improvement. Curiosity is the 
spring of literary and scientific research. It is excited by the 
knowledge of what has been discovered — by acquaintance with 
the methods of investigation — by emulation and the inter- 
course of kindred minds. It is in colleges that these causes are 
in full operation. They stimulate activity, keep pace with the 
improvements of the age and furnish inquiring minds with the 
means of further progress. It is a law of our nature that, if 
society be not progressive, it will decline. Colleges, therefore, 
are institutions of necessity, and where they answer the purposes 
for which they are founded amply repay the generous patronage 
of the public, although they add nothing to the stock of material 

Fifty years have passed and we have crossed, for the first time, 
the threshold of the new Hall, where the future anniversaries 
of this College are to be celebrated. The old chapel and the 
early days of this institution will henceforth be invested with a 
sort of historical interest. When we survey the flowing river we 
are prompted by a natural curiosity to know from what distant 
springs it takes its source, and I revert from this splendid dome 
to the Incunabula of our College with more pleasure, because it 
affords the opportunity of rendering the poor tribute of posthum- 
ous applause to the memory of its first president, my revered 

Jonathan Maxcy exerted no little influence on the character 

306 J^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

of the youth of his day and his name is never to be mentioned 
by his disciples without reverence. He had many eminent 
qualifications for his office. His genius was aesthetic; per- 
suasion flowed from his lips and his eloquence diffused over 
every subject the bright hues of a warm imagination. He was 
deeply imbued with classical learning and the human mind 
divided his heart with the love of polite literature. With pro- 
found piety, he was free from the slightest taint of bigotry or 
narrowness. Early in life he had entered into the ministry, 
under sectarian banners, but though he never resiled from the 
creed which he had adopted — so catholic was his spirit — so 
genial his soul to the inspirations of faith, hope and charity — 
that, whether in the chair or the pulpit, he never seemed to us 
less than an apostolic teacher. Never will the charm of his 
eloquence be erased from the memory on which its impression 
has once been made. His elocution was equally winning and 
peculiar. He spoke in the most deliberate manner; his voice 
was clear and gentle; his action composed and quiet; yet no man 
had such command over the noisy sallies of youth. His pres- 
ence quelled every disorder. The most riotous offender shrunk 
from the reproof of that pale brow and intellectual eye. The 
reverence that attended him stilled the progress of disaffection, 
and to him belonged the rare power — exercised in the face of 
wondering Europe by Lamartine — of quelling by persuasion the 
spirit of revolt. 

The bachelor's degree was conferred, for the first time, in 
1806 — and then upon one student, Anderson Crenshaw, the 
Protagonist of this school. He made his solitary curriculum 
without an associate, and thereby gave an example of indepen- 
dence which accorded well with the integrity of his mind. 

May it ever be characteristic of our school to pursue the path 
of honor, even if it be solitary. May the man whom this College 
enrolls among her sons ever retain the firmness to stand alone 
when duty and conscience are on his side. Nor was our pro- 
tagonist unworthy of these anticipations. He was elevated to 
the Chancery Bench in Alabama, and when he occupied the 
judgment seat we may be sure that the balance of Justice was 
never disturbed by a sinister influence. 

The list of graduates rose the next year to four, and in 1808 
a numerous class increased the reputation of the College, more 
by their abilities than by their numbers. In that constellation 
was one bright star which was only shown to the earth and then 
set prematurely, but which ought not to be forgotten if the 
memory of virtue is entitled to live. When I look on the place 
once familiar to his voice Imagination invests the scene with the 
presence of George Davis, such as he was in youth — in health 
— the pride of the Faculty, the Monitor and Example of the 
school. When he was to speak no tablets were needed to record 

James Louis Petigru 307 

the absent — every student was in his place. It is a traditionary 
opinion that the orator is the creature of art. Poeta nascitur, 
orator fit. But those who heard the youthful Davis would go 
away with a different impression. The maxim, indeed, does not 
deserve assent further than this, that when the Orator has to 
deal with the actual affairs of life he must, to persuade and con- 
vince, be master of all the details of his subject, often requiring 
great minuteness and variety of knowledge, the fruit of sedulous 
labor and attentive study, whereas, the poet addresses himself 
to those sentiments and emotions characteristic of our common 
nature which are revealed by the faculty of consciousness and 
self-examination. But Davis was already an Orator. Before 
he began to speak, his audience was rendered attentive by his 
noble countenance, in which the feelings of his soul were expres- 
sively portrayed. In language pure and flowing, equally free 
from rant or meanness, he poured out generous sentiments or 
pursued the line of clear and methodical argument. To gifts 
so rare was joined the utmost sweetness of temper, and his man- 
ners were as amiable and his conduct as free from eccentricity 
as if he had been a stranger to the inspirations of genius. Early 
in his senior year he withdrew from College, and before the 
wheels of time had ushered in the day for conferring degrees the 
news that George Davis was no more fell like a chill on the 
hearts of his fellow-students. They thought of the legends of 
Cleobis and Biton, as embodying a sentiment true to the feelings 
of nature, and owned that the grave of one so bright, so blame- 
less and so young, must have often suggested the thought that 
it is not to the favorites of Heaven that long life is granted. 
Nearly fifty years have passed since the grave closed on all that 
was mortal of George Davis,and few now remain that ever felt the 
grasp of his cordial hand, but many long years may pass before 
tears will flow for one so bountifully endowed or society sustain 
an equal loss. 

In strong contrast, within the same group — to memory's 
view — stands the robust frame of Nathaniel Alcock Ware. 
His intellect was like a fortress built upon a rock; the flowers of 
fancy grew not in the shade of its battlements. The pursuits of 
literature did not satisfy the cravings of a mind like his, which 
loved to grapple with subjects that required the strength of his 
herculean arm. His memory was capacious of the most multi- 
farious nomenclature and science was congenial to his taste. In 
college exercises he uniformly outran the professor, and when 
the class was entering on a new study he was preparing to quit 
it, or was already engaged in exploring some more distant field. 
Nor was his mind less discriminating than apprehensive, and 
the mass of information with which his memory was stored was 
readily reduced to order and method by the strength of his 
judgment. Neither did he lack the kindlier affections, and 

308 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

though he scorned the flowers of fancy his heart was susceptible 
to friendship. Whether from the neglect of those studies which 
are most proper to secure for one's sense a favorable reception 
'' delectatione aliqua allicere lectorem" or from indifference 
to popular arts, he did not make on the public an impression in 
proportion to his power or the judgment of his fellow students. 
And he that would have guided with a steady hand the helm of 
State was confined, with a solitary exception, to a private sta- 
tion. And those powers that would have regulated the finances 
of an empire or organized the march of Armies were limited in 
their operation to the acquisition and management of a colossal 

Among those now no more, but then the pride of the College, 
who would fail to recognize the large figure of Charles Dewitt, 
radiant with youth, and sedate with reflection? The dignity of 
manhood marked his steps and the warmth of youth animated 
his conversation. By his fortune placed above the care of 
money, by the elevation of his mind above the allurements of 
idleness or dissipation, he seemed a youthful sage, neither ascetic 
nor devoted to pleasure, cultivating knowledge for its own sake 
and cherishing virtue as its 6wn reward. In his case imagination 
could easily anticipate the work of time and conceive of the 
youth already grave beyond his years, as surrounded with the 
honors of mature age, and then the image would suggest the 
principal figure in the glowing lines of the poet: 

"Ac, veluti, magno in populo quum saepe coorta est 
Seditio, saevitque animis ignobile vulgus; 
Jamque faces et saxa volant; furer arma ministrat; 
Turn pietate gravem ac meritis, si forte virum quem 
Conspexere, silent; arrectisque auribus adstant; 
Ille regit dictis animos, et pectora mulcet;" 

But he was not destined to see that day and an early death 
deprived the State of one that seemed to be born for a part so 
noble and not unfrequently needed. 

Nor in this retrospective view would it be possible to omit the 
most careless of students, the most ingenious of men — Charles 
Stevens — absent-minded, forgetful of College bell or College 
exercise, but never at fault in detecting a sophism or weaving 
the chain of argument. In after times, when he would rise in 
the Legislature, on some knotty point of parliamentary or con- 
stitutional law, the absence of all ornament of speech or gesture 
and of all attempts at the arts by which an audience is flattered, 
could not prevent him from being listened to with profound 
attention. No man wielded a keener dialectic; the blade 
glittered to the eye, but the weapon was held in a harmless hand. 
Had he been bent on cutting his way to distinction by subvert- 
ing the existing order of things the social fabric would have had 

James Louis Petigru 309 

no more formidable adversary. His dialectic would have 
hardly been resisted by any establishment, because all things 
mortal contain some error, and to the keen logician every weak 
place furnishes a point of assault and an opening to the enemy. 
But Stevens was conservative — the severity of his logic was 
tempered by the mildness of his disposition. He lived in peace, 
which he loved, and died surrounded by affectionate friends, 
who admired his genius but valued more the qualities of his 

Nor should Waring be forgotten, already skilled in the 
knowledge of human character. His observant spirit naturally 
led him to the study of medicine, in which he rose to high and 
merited distinction in Savannah. Nor the noble-minded 
DuPont, of kindred race, but of warmer temperament, who also 
chose the path of medicine, but was too soon removed to reap 
the honors, civil and professional, which he was so well qualified 
to win. Nor Miller, even then remarkable for the talent which 
afterwards raised him to the highest distinctions in the State. 
Nor Gill, whose early death deprived society of all that might 
be expected from his hardy sense and constant application. 
Nor must we forget the leaders of the class — the bland Murphy 
and the inflexible Gregg. They were the real students, who, 
like true soldiers, never forgot the rules of discipline, but studied 
for the first honors and won them gallantly. 

And could I forget thee, the soul of honor and the joy of friend- 
ship, George Butler — the most gallant of men, the most genial 
of spirits! The profession of arms well accorded with his 
martial character, and though his plume was not destined to 
wave in the battle's storm and the fortune of war confined his 
service to a barren field, yet no more devoted son rallied to the 
flag, under which he would have been proud to die for his country. 
Nor does the trump of Fame bear to the winds the echoes of a 
name where the soldier's Zeal was more gracefully blended with 
the tenderness of a gentle heart. 

But the youth instinct with great ideas, the Scholar, the Bard, 
the Genius of the school, remains. How shall I describe thee, 
William Harper? Careless, simple and negligent, he lived 
apart in the world of his own genius — his imagination brought 
all things human and divine within the scope of his intellectual 
vision. For him it was equally easy to learn or to produce. It 
was not to be expected that such a mind could find occupation 
in any enforced routine. He was no candidate for the honors in 
College, though he received a distinguished appointment, in 
fulfilling which he delivered a poem, almost an improvisation, 
on the death of Montgomery. It is very common to underrate 
the imagination as an element of power. It is imparted in a 
high degree to but few, and the opinion of the majority proceeds 
from imperfect and superficial knowledge of the subject. Works 

310 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

of the imagination are measured by the standard of utility and 
condemned by common minds as frivolous. The character of 
genius suffers in the same way when tried by the estimate of 
prudence. Nor can it be denied that, for common affairs 
originality and invention are of little value, nor that the finest 
parts must yield the palm to the intrinsic value of good sense. 
Fancy, Imagination, Memory — nay. Reason itself — are of little 
avail without the presence and moderation of that sober guard- 
ian. But the great mistake of the common judgment is to 
suppose that between genius and good sense there is some 
principle of opposition. The very reverse is true; good sense is 
essential to genius, and the example of William Harper is a 
striking corroboration of the truth. He was a true poet; of 
imagination all compact, and if he had given the reins to his 
genius would certainly have devoted himself to the Lyric Muse. 
But ''dura res et — noiitas'' — the exigencies of common life and 
the little encouragement bestowed on literature determined 
otherwise, and he embraced the legal profession. How com- 
pletely he refuted the idea that an imaginative or aesthetic mind 
is ill adapted to the severest legal studies is known to all South 
Carolina. His judgments contained in Bailey, Hill and the 
later reporters, from 1830 to 1847, are an enduring monurnent 
of his judicial fame, and his defence of the South on the relations 
existing between two races is so profound in conception, so 
masterly in execution, as to cause a wide-spread regret that his 
pen was not more frequently employed in philosophical investi- 

The distinguished men that have proceeded from this place 
furnish the best evidence of the successful cultivation of learn- 
ing in this College. If we were to follow the stream of time we 
should meet with many a name to prompt the eulogy of departed 
worth, but I forbear. Though the ornaments of succeeding 
years might claim the tribute of friendship or challenge the 
praise of a more eloquent tongue, those contemporary portraits 
are reflected in the glass of memory, and later years come not 
within the field of its vision. Rather is it within the purpose 
of this celebration to inquire how far the results have corres- 
ponded with the expectations of the friends of the College and 
what hopes may reasonably be entertained of the future. 

As to the past, there is much ground for gratulation in the 
effect which this College has had in harmonizing and uniting 
the State. In 1804 sectional jealousies were sharpened to bit- 
terness and there was as little unity of feeling between the upper 
and lower-country as between any rival States of the Union. 
Although the suppression of such jealousies is in part attribu- 
table to the removal of some anomalies in the Constitution, 
much the largest share in the same good work is due to the 
attractive force of a common education. To the insensible 

James Louis Petigru 311 

operations of the same influence must also be referred the Hberal 
provision that has been made for general education by the estab- 
lishment of free schools. And if the benefits of such schools 
have not yet equalled the full measure of usefulness expected 
from the system the failure arises from peculiar circumstances, 
and affords no just cause for discouragement. Wherever there 
is a resident Proprietary equal to the duty of their position these 
schools have not failed to answer the purpose of diffusing the 
elements of learning. Nor let the limited education of the poor 
be contemned. It is much more the spirit of instruction than 
the amount which is imparted that interests the State. By 
the instruction received in the most backward school the learner 
is put in communication with a higher degree of learning. It is 
the natural order of things to proceed by steps, and if this 
gradation do not exist in the social fabric it is a serious defect. 
The influence of the college, like the ambient air, should extend 
on all sides — upwards to the regions of discovery and downwards 
to the smallest tenement of rudimental instruction. In this 
way the blessings of civilization are extended by a sound and 
healthy state of public opinion, and if we compare the progress 
which the State has made since 1804 we shall have no reason to 
withhold our assent from the conclusion that the hopes with 
which the College was inaugurated have not been disappointed. 

As to the future, we trust that the College will be true to its 
mission as the nurse of an enlightened public opinion. From 
this source should issue not only the rays of knowledge, but the 
light which disperses the mists of prejudice. Knowledge is a 
step in the improvement of society, but it is not the only desid- 
eratum. Very pernicious errors may prevail in the midst of 
much intellectual activity and opinions long discarded by culti- 
vated minds may still exert a widespread and pernicious influ- 
ence. In eradicating such weeds from the minds of the young 
the public Instructor has an arduous duty in which every 
encouragement is to be given to his efforts. It is in the college 
that the reformation of popidar errors should begin. 

Education is the hand-maid of civilization, which includes 
morals and manners as well as learning. But if opinions which 
reason condemns, find shelter in colleges, where shall we look 
for improvement to begin? Education is valuable to society, 
because it improves the moral sense and develops the energies 
of the mind. The fruit of such culture should be shown by an 
exemption from popular error or local prejudice. When the 
College is but the echo of the popular voice, there is room to 
surmise that the culture has been neglected, or that the Pro- 
fessor has labored upon an ungrateful soil. A liberal education 
implies a superiority to common errors; and deep regret must 
follow the disappointment of that expectation. But it is still 
more deplorable when the college becomes a place of refuge for 

312 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

exploded fallacies, among which none can be more pernicious 
than that false sentiment that resistance to authority is an 
honorable impulse. Now Fidelity is the very bond of Honor 
and lends its sanction to all the demands to lawful authority. 
To promise and fail to perform, is always a reproach; and if the 
default be wilful, it entails the heavier penalty of disgrace. But 
lawful authority imposes obligations of equal weight with those 
which are clothed with a promise. To set against such obli- 
gations, considerations of personal will, interest, or opinion, is 
characteristic of sordid egotism and inconsistent with the first 
principles of Honor. A liberal education implies a keen sensi- 
bility to every duty which Fidelity enjoins; and over the portal 
of every College should be inscribed in letters of gold, Obedi- 
ence is Honorable. 

And now considering the feeble beginnings of 1804, when the 
course of the Senior year would hardly be considered in these 
days a qualification for the Sophomore — when the whole array 
of Faculty consisted of three Professors, and the Philosophical 
apparatus of one telescope — and comparing that state of things 
with the present numerous and learned Staff — with the well 
stored library, copious Instrumentality and convenient Halls 
of the present day — it is equally just — to applaud the generous 
policy of the State; and to utter the heartfelt vow — that the 
hundredth anniversary of this institution may confirm the exam- 
ple of past usefulness, and justify the hopes of future progress. 

James Louis Petigru 313 



Argument Before the Supreme Court at Washington; 
Has a Mind to Take up Lecturing; Marriage of Mr. 
Dorn; Captain Thomas Petigru and the Retiring 


TO MRS. jane petigru NORTH 

Charleston, January 17, 1855. 

* * * I was SO much indisposed in Washington that I had 
barely health to go through my argument, and did not acquit 
myself near as well as I ought to have done. * * * 


Your Brother. 

TO MRS. jane petigru NORTH 

February 27, 1855. 

* * * Chancellor Wardlaw holds Court every day. I 
confess the practice is becoming less and less to my liking. I 
have a mind to take to lecturing. I would rather undertake to 
teach the boys than the Judges. 

Johnston [Pettigrew] continues to maintain his reputation. 
His last feat was by astonishing Mr. Memminger and Mr. 
Tupper with a mathematical solution in five minutes of a sum 
that they thought would take a week. 

Adieu. Love to Mary and Minnie. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

Badwell, 20 August, 1855. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * The great subject of conversation in the Range is 
the marriage of Mr. Dorn. The "Enfau" was worthy of the 
master of a gold mine. Tables of fabulous extent groaning 
under loads of food, such as rejoiced the guests in heroic times, 
were surrounded by an admiring throng. They strained their 
eyes to catch a glimpse of the generous host and his fair bride, 
and when she unveiled and entered the festal bower on the arm 
of her spouse, Billy Patterson, the master of ceremonies, cried: 


314 ^?/^j Letters and Speeches 

"The show is over folks, fall to," and the destruction of viands 
commenced. Fame speaks of 20 bullocks and 80 sheep slaugh- 
tered for the feast, but is silent as to ale or generous drink, 
though I can not suppose that the Maine Law governed on the 
joyful occasion. Nothing has happened equal to it since the 
wedding of Robin Hood, celebrated in an English ballad, which 
your Mamma has often heard and if you could prevail on her 
to sing it, you would then have the opportunity of comparing 
the exploits of the old time and those of the Range. With this 
disadvantage however, against the Moderns, that the ballad was 
no doubt composed by a witness who was inspired by the scene 
in which he played a part, whereas, my description is drawn from 
hearsay. Willie divides his time between outdoor amusements 
and the Waverly Novels, of which he is a diligent reader. I 
suppose you are preparing for your Buncombe expedition. The 
next time I hope you will take Badwell on your way, for they 
have actually commenced work on the Valley Railroad, and as 
it is true to a proverb, that ce nest que le premier pas qui coutCy 
I hope that we shall see the locomotive before long, within a mile 
of us. Make my dutiful salutations to Ma and Grandmother 
and to all the family circle, not omitting Henry and believe me 
dear Sue, affectionately 

Your Father. 

On hearing that his brother was dropped from the service by 
the naval board then sitting in Washington, Petigru wrote as 
follows : 


Charleston, September 27, 1855. 
My dear Jane: 

Little did I think when I left you last Friday morning what 
a storm was going to burst on our heads — our devoted heads. 
The suddenness of the attack and the mortal violence of the 
blow are more than human patience can bear. It is the only 
thing that I can think of. It is before me every moment, and 
I feel sometimes like the person in the play, who is shocked to 
think how patiently he endures the wrongs that are heaped upon 
him with impunity. But it is impossible to stand still; we 
must bring the thing before Congress and expose the fraud and 
duplicity of the board, who against their own sense and judg- 
ment, have pronounced him inefficient because they do not like 
him. Mr. Shubrick would not like to sail with him and, there- 
fore, he is inefficient. I have written to him once only. I 
suppose you have? I almost reproach myself for not having 
set off, or rather kept on, to Washington as soon as I heard it. 

James Louis Petigru 315 

for the horrid fact came to my knowledge on the car on Friday 
night by a paper that had been lent me in Augusta. * * * 

Your Brother. 

Many of the older officers, Captain Petigru among them, had 
served in the war of 1812, and it was shameful to drop them in 
their old age without even giving them an opportunity to answer 
to any charges that might be made against them. 

Mr. Petigru felt the injustice keenly and made every effort 
in his power to have his brother reinstated,^ but it was all with- 
out avail. He probably would have succeeded, but, as will be 
shown later. Captain Petigru died before the wrong was righted. 


St. Michael's Alley, October 5, 1855. 
* * * If I could get the printers to publish Spratt's com- 
ments on the conduct of the board it would open the eyes of the 
community so far as they are able to understand what they 
read. The Evening News (Cunningham's paper) has dis- 
cussed the case by name and our friend Grayson has sounded the 
alarm in a piece exposing the unconstitutional and illegal acts 
of the board without reserve. It is to come out in all our papers 
tomorrow, so probably you may see it. I have written to Orr 
and intend to do the same by Keitt and James Jones, of Ten- 
nessee, the Senator. It seems to me that Congress will be 
obliged to restore every man that has been, in the choice lan- 
guage of the board, dropped, and that they will be obliged to 
own that towards the Captain they are inexcusable. * * * 
Speaking of happiness, a thing rare in our family, what do you 
say to Marshal Pellessier and the allies and the fall of Sebasta- 
pool.^ I sympathize with the Marshal and his friends entirely, 
and am very glad the fortress has fallen and hope the Russians 
will be made to respect the rights of a weak neighbor. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, December 27, 1855. 
I feel undeserving of your kind letter, written as long ago as 
the 12th, in which you tell me of everything except your little 
woodpecker of a granddaughter; but of her and her red head I 
hear from everybody. You were right to call her Jane, but 
with this trait of resemblance she ought to be not only Jane, but 
Jane Caroline, after her dear, dear great grandmother. I hope 
she will have as much spirit and a happier temperament. 

316 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

* * * I went to Columbia and worked hard and helped John 
A. Calhoun to work for the railroad — our railroad — and we 
carried our point so far as to get the charter amended for the 
benefit of our Augusta connection, and now we begin to have 
hopes of getting so strong a subscription in Georgia as to start 
the road in earnest. [The Savannah Valley Railroad.] 

I went to Washington from Columbia and met Tom there 
and stayed a whole week, consulting, inquiring, and stirring up 
friends. It certainly was not in my way to see the friends of 
the navy board, and I may have found none because I did not 
look for them, but I can safely say that no person that conversed 
with me undertook to justify that junta or celebrate their dark 
deeds. I was greatly pleased with Lieutenant [Matthew Fon- 
taine] Maury, a man of high and generous spirit, who sees the 
question from the true point of view and is able to show to the 
members of that board, one and all, that he is not their superior 
in mathematics only. The wretched creatures reduced him 
because, being a scholar, he could not be a sailor, so they pre- 
tend, but they will be very sick of the argument before he is done 
with them. It was deemed most prudent by our Senatorial 
friends and others to wait for the President's message. For 
there is a rumor that the President intends to recommend mod- 
ifications, viz., that he means to reinstate such as he thinks ought 
to be reinstated by nominating them to their own places. It 
seems very foolish to dismiss or disrate officers for the mere 
purpose and with the intent of restoring them, but there is no 
telling before the event what some people can do. Therefore, 
I acquiesced in this suggestion and left the Captain there. He 
came home on Saturday and brings no additional news besides 
what the papers show, that memorials begin to flow in, not- 
withstanding the idea that the President ought to be heard from 
first. * * * 

Your Brother. 

James Louis Petigru 317 



Marriage of Miss Elliott; Oration at Erskine College, 
Due West, S. C; Mrs. Petigru at Flat Rock; First 
President of S. C. Historical Society; Magrath- 
Taber Duel 

to william elliott 

Charleston, 15 April, 1856. 
My dear Elliott: 

If I was not tied down to the routine of the Law, I would 
certainly make one in the happy group that the altar of Hymen 
will attract to your hospitable roof on Thursday.* But it is as 
vain to struggle against professional ties as against those of 
Hymen, himself, and I must content myself with "the bare 
imagination of a feast," instead of offering you, in person, my 
congratulations or sympathy. In fact, I was away in George- 
town last week, and this week am devoted to Judge O'Neale and 
the Docket. It is a great pleasure to meet a congenial spirit, 
but I do not like your doubts, when you question whether I am 
sensible of the affinity that brings us together in feeling and 
temperament, tho' divided so far by the difference between a 
landed Gentleman and a plodding practitioner. Let me impose 
on you the duty of making my congratulations to the happy 
gentleman, and my vows for the happy future of your daughter, 
as well as my acknowledgements to Mrs. Elliott of the great 
honor done me by her invitation. It would have been a great 
source of pleasure to my young friend Johnston Pettigrew, if 
he had been able to avail himself of your kind invitation. Hop- 
ing that the great event may be the theme of many agreeable 
and happy recollections, I am, my dear Elliott, 

Yours truly, 


Flat Rock, 18 August, 1856. 
My dear Sue: 

This is the first letter I have written since 12th, which was 
the day I left Badwell for Due West. W'e set out with mules 
and horses. The girls Minnie, Louise and Little Lou staid that 

*The marriage of Colonel A. E. Gonzales to Miss Harriette Elliott. He is the 
father of Mr. W. E. Gonzales of the State, Columbia, S. C. 

318 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

night at Judge Wardlaw's. Charles and I went on and found 
Due West alive with people from the whole country round. 
The house was so crowded, that, but for my public character, 
we would have been obliged to sleep three in a bed, but thanks 
to that distinction, Charles and I had a bed to ourselves. There 
was a gathering in the chapel at night, and many speeches from 
the members of the twin societies, Philomathean and Euphem- 
ean. The business was renewed in the morning at 10, by the 
graduates and kept up till one. True to the pristine manners 
of the country, they adjourned to dinner for an hour, and then 
were to meet to hear the anniversary. They came in pretty 
punctually, but then had to wait for the musicians, who were 
refreshing, and made the people feel their importance by keep- 
ing them in expectation of their coming till they, who had not 
wearied under the infliction of 10 schoolboy declamations, were 
tired with waiting in silence. But all things at last were ready 
and the anniversary began. But here a great disappointment 
awaited the assembled host when they found, that instead of 
preaching, they were to listen to a mere reader. Added to this, 
the clouds, which had been during the recess gathering, now 
began to throw a veil over the face of day, and before we had 
got over the first part of the discourse, rain, which had not been 
seen for months, began to fall and every man in the house, that 
had dismounted at the college gate, began to run out after his saddle 
or blanket or beast, and the ladies moved to the windows and the 
children began to cry and except the Trustees and a few members 
of the society, they did not hear a word, and even the quotation 
from the Anti Lucretius failed to make an impression. The 
reading ended before the rain, which was in fact far the more 
interesting of the two, and the mass slowly dispersed. We 
returned to the Judge's that evening, and the next morning 
Charles set out for Badwell at 2 o'clock; I took the car for 
Greenville and the girls staid to make a morning start. * * * 

Your Parent. 

The first meeting of the South Carolina Historical Society 
was held October 28, 1856, and Mr. Petigru was elected its first 
President. The petition for a charter for the Society, signed by 
J. L. Petigru, F. A. Porcher and others, was submitted to the 
State Legislature, December 1, 1856. 


Columbia, 28 November, 1856. 
My dear Sue: 

You know how much regard I have always had for Mr. Barn- 
well Rhett, and my high esteem of Edmund's abilities. Col. 

James Louis Petigru 319 

Jack too, the son of an old ally, has claims on my good feelings, 
which I am no ways disposed to lessen. While on the other 
hand, Mr. Conner's son and Johnston too are placed in relations 
to all these, that are not of an inviting tendency. Your learned 
physician in these circumstances puts forth an address to the 
public, calling their attention to Cunningham and the Rhetts, 
certainly not for the most charitable ends. Now, what I want 
to say to you is, that I would deprecate exceedingly if any of us 
should take a side in the affray. I deplore poor Taber's death 
most sincerely and would have spared no pains to avert his fate. 
It was a disastrous event; the end disappointed everybody. 
If he had killed Magrath, all would have been well. It would 
have swelled the public sympathy into an immense vote for his 
brother, who would have gone to Congress, and Taber, poor 
fellow, would have been a sadder and a wiser man for the rest 
of his life. But the catastrophe did not wait for the proprieties 
of the drama, and made everything wrong. That is the entang- 
lement; not that the difficulties of the plot were so great as wise- 
acre Bellinger makes them, or that there was any necessity that 
one man should die, or that poor Taber should owe his life to a 
concession, which he did not love his life enough to make; but 
that, they none of them took into consideration the great risk 
of the wrong man being killed, and in the negotiation on the 
ground, they passed over on both sides, the only practical 
solution, viz: to consider the point of honor as being the only 
thing in issue and satisfied^by the exchange of shots. Now, as 
you are a great writer and sometimes a great talker, I wish to 
impress on you my fear that Bellinger's piece will open the strife, 
and to beg you to take no side, and the only way to take no side 
is to say nothing. It is what I do. I persuaded, as far as I 
could, Conner and Johnston to say nothing to Cunningham's 
unnecessary vindication, because it was only a vindication, tho' 
as far as I can see, needless. But Bellinger's piece is more an 
attack than a vindication, and will be likely to bring on a 
renewal of war, in which war, I beg you my child to be quiet. 
Your Uncle Allston is going to be Governor without opposition; 
tell your Aunt so. 

Your Parent. 

The duel between Edward Magrath and W. R. Taber, Jr., 
grew out of an acrimonius political newspaper correspondence. 
The affair was badly managed and as a result the excitement 
continued until it bid fair to occasion another duel in which 
Col. John Cunningham, Taber's second, was involved. Mr. 
Petigru interfered and threatened the publisher of the Courier, 
in which paper the letter writing war was carried on, with prose- 
cution for libel if any further communications concerning the 

320 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

duel were published in his paper. The controversy suddenly 
ceased. A few days afterwards Dr. Francis Y. Porcher made one 
of his accustomed Sunday morning visits to Mr. Petigru while 
he was at breakfast. He told him that he "came to him as the 
fountainhead to get the facts." Mr. Petigru suddenly wheeled 
in his chair and with some impatience exclaimed, "Porcher, 

'fountainhead' be d d!" He then gave his reasons for what 

he had done and delivered quite a lecture on the law of libel. 
In compliment of Mr. Petigru's intervention, Colonel John 
Cunningham presented him with a very handsome gold snuff 
box which is still in the possession of a member of his family. 
It bears the following inscription: 

John Cunningham 

To his friend 
James L. Petigru 

A. D. 1858. 

James Louis Petigru 321 



Defeat in Law Case; Death of Captain Thomas Petigru; 
Completion of Memphis & Charleston Railroad; 
Failure of Banks 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

Tallahassee, 5 March, 1857. 
Dear Sue: 

Since Tuesday week I have heard nothing of Charleston but 
through an occasional Courier^ but I hope that you Sue and 
Addy are well and lively, and that you are not without some 
curiosity to know how we are getting on in this place. Know 
then, that it is now raining hard and the heights about Talla- 
hassee are hid in mist. Three Judges are sitting opposite on a 
bench raised above the common level, listening to an apprentice 
of the Law, who is reading in monotonous tone page after page 
of what witnesses say about the life and history of Hardy Bryan 
Croom. On chairs at a table below the bench are seated that 
reader, besides Mr. Archer and your paternal ancestor and at 
the fireplace at either end of the Hall are seated various persons, 
induced by business or want of business to while away the morn- 
ing here. Among these groups are Allen McFarland and Mr. 
Sappington, that you know, and Mr. Croom, that you have 
heard of, and Judge Law and some half dozen more. It is now 
y^ after 12, and we have had a real Gulf storm. It was so dark 
that we had to suspend the sitting for half an hour, while wind, 
rain and hail filled the air, and tho' it is now comparatively 
clear, we have to introduce candles. This is the third day that 
we have been battling in Court and it will be night before we 
will be through with the evidence, and there is little reason to 
believe that I shall be heard before Monday. Judge Law 
will take up more than a day, so that you may take for granted 
that I have business on hand till the 10th. * * * ]yjy 
hostess, Mrs. Croom, is so kind, that she never thinks I 
have enough. This morning I told her that if she could get 
Judge Law, who is on the other side, to her table, I would have 
no objection to cramming him, but it would not be good policy 
for her to give me so many good things before her case was 
decided. I hope there is no danger, but, if the decision should 
go against them, it would make a sad change. I don't think I 

322 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

would have the courage to break the news to them. But I 
intend to run the risk of the judgment, by hearing it dehvered 
before I go, for I propose to make a trip to the Wakulla Spring 
after the argument is over. Adieu, dear Sue. 

Your Parent. 

The Croom-Sappington will case involved a large amount of 
money in Florida. So confident was Mr. Petigru of gaining the 
suit that, upon his opinion, his clients refused a very handsome 
compromise that was offered by the other side. The case was 
decided against him. This miscarriage of justice nearly set 
him crazy. Students at his office said that he passed his time 
between his room and walking in his garden muttering to him- 
self and it was worth as much as a man's life to approach him. 
At his home he passed the nights walking up and down repeating 
the various points of his argument. It was several weeks before 
he recovered from the shock. 

While engaged in this case he received the announcement of 
the death of his brother. Captain Thomas Petigru, at Washing- 
ton, March 6, 1857. His remains were removed to the family 
cemetery at Badwell, where a suitable monument marks his 
last resting place. The generous and unselfish character of Mr. 
Petigru is well shown by the following letter to his brother's 


Goodwood, Florida, March 11, 1857. 
My dear Sister Anne: 

When the first shock of the heavy news which has just reached 
me was over my thoughts immediately reverted to you. And 
when I lifted up my heart in silent supplication for the Divine 
mercy on my poor brother's soul my next feeling was in reference 
to you : that you might have the aid of the same mercy to support 
this trial as you have supported so many others. There is no one 
but yourself who will be so deeply affected by his loss as I. He 
was my nearest friend and his removal leaves a blank in my 
existence only to be equalled by the one it must make in your 
life. To supply, by my zeal, the want of that arm, on which 
you have leaned so long, will, to the limited extent of my ability, 
be a duty never to be forgotten by me. The requirements of 
my connection with the Court now sitting at this place, will 
detain me at least two days more and no other cause would keep 
me from waiting on you in person to assume every care and 

James Louis Petigru 323 

trouble that you would allow me to undertake for you and assure 
you of the depth of my sympathy in all your griefs. And I beg 
you to believe that in this mind I shall ever be, my dear Anne, 
your friend and brother, 

J. L. Petigru. 


St. Michael's Alley, May 9, 1857. 
Dear Sue: 

Your Grandmama has accomplished this morning an extra- 
ordinary work, and something almost as wonderful is likely to 
happen in a few hours, in which your papa is principally con- 
cerned. In a word, Grandma this day completes her 80th year, 
and the number 78— no, 68 will be sounded by the clock in your 
father's Hall tomorrow. Don't you think we had better 
lengthen the table, so as to take in Aunt Jane and the others? 
And if you agree with me that Sarah is hardly adequate to a 
ragout, will you decide between Jake and Lizzie, which is 
deserving of most confidence. 


Broad Street, May 26, 1857. 

* * * The Memphis people are coming in shoals. They 
say the entertainment will cost the city $20,000. They wanted 
me to act as one of the vice presidents on Thursday, but it is 
out of the question. I consented to let my name stand as a 
manager of the ball among the seniors, for that involves no 
necessity for attending; but to partake in the festivities is another 
thing, for which I have no heart. * * * 

The citizens were jubilant over the completion of the Memphis 
and Charleston Railroad, and the inauguration of the Blue 
Ridge. Great hopes were entertained of increased commercial 
advantages and a more profitable trade. The citizens of Mem- 
phis were invited to visit Charleston and mingle the waters of 
the Mississippi with those of the Atlantic. 


Charleston, October 13, 1857. 

* * * I hope Ned got through his journey without any 
accident and delivered my letter, as well as the small parcels 
delivered to him, with fidelity. That is a virtue that ought to 
be at a premium in these days. The instances of gross betrayals 
of trust have been, unfortunately, common of late and even in 
this hum-drum place, where people console themselves for being 

324 l-ijs^ Letters and Speeches 

dull with the notion that they are very honest, there are many 
recent defalcations. * * * 

The few cases [of yellow fever] that have appeared do not 
amount to an epidemic and are not on the increase. It is very 
different as to the disaster that affects the money market. 
There the disease is on the increase. Two more banks failed 
yesterday, the S. W. Railroad Bank and the South Carolina, 
and today the People's Bank (the same that McKay ran away 
from) has followed the example; nor should I be surprised if one 
or two go in the course of the afternoon. The generality of the 
people would be glad if they would all suspend, as it would allay 
the struggle which it costs to maintain the contest. * * * 

James Louis Petigru 325 



Appeal to Susan; Death of Colonel Hampton and Doctor 
Oilman; Visit of Mr. Edward Everett; His Letters; 
Trenholm; Marietta, Ga., Defends Blue Ridge Rail- 
road; Opposed by Toombs and Cobb 

TO MRS. jane petigru NORTH 

Charleston, February 18, 1858. 
My dear Sister: 

* * * How much I was shocked by Colonel Hampton's 
death ! and Mr. Oilman's was made known the same day. Many 
of his friends went to Columbia to attend the Colonel's funeral. 
Had I been there I would probably have gone, too. The 
funeral of Mr. Oilman* was like that of a great minister 
of State. It was the best evidence of the high estimation 
in which he was held, that the church, long before the hour 
of the service, was filled to overflowing and crowds remained 
outside till sundown. Adieu. Love to Louise. 

Your Brother. 

to edward everett 

Charleston, S. C, 22 March, 1858. 
My dear Sir: 

I have felt quite proud of my daughter's good fortune in 
securing you as our guest for a part at least of your time when 
you visit this place. And as Mr. Yeadon is bound upon a 
forensic expedition next week I am rejoiced to think that we 
shall come in for the first instead of the second place. So that 
even if you do not, as we wish you would, take up your abode 
with us altogether, you will still as I trust come at once to us, 
and nowhere else on your arrival. 

As to the time of your coming the choice of course is with you 
and a hearty welcome awaits you whenever it is; but as to the 
public, the season makes some difference. In Passion week it 
is impossible in this place to inaugurate any festive or secular 
demonstration with success, and even the Oration on Washing- 
ton would by a large and influential class be considered an 

*Samuel Gilman, D. D., rector of the Unitarian church for 28 years. 

326 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

unseasonable display. If, therefore, we have the pleasure of 
seeing you before Easter, we would propose that the interim be 
passed in domestic tranquility. After Easter the public will be 
in a fitting state to enjoy the charm of eloquence, and when your 
labours are over, we have in prospect for you an excursion into 
the neighborhood which will give our friends an opportunity 
much desired by them, of welcoming you to those Country Seats, 
which are now beginning to be particularly pleasant. 

If you will advise us of your progress we will be happy to 
receive your despatches, and your arrival among us will be hailed 
with greater pleasure by none than by, dear sir, 

Yours sincerely, 

J. L. Petigru. 

Mr. Everett arrived April 9 and was a guest at Mr. Petigru 's 
house for more than a week. Mr. Yeadon then carried him to 
his home in order, as he said, that he might "have a free swing." 
Every one knew Mr. Everett as the type of reserve, neatness 
and precision, and Mr. Yeadon was always known to be just 
the reverse. It was a source of great curiosity to know how 
Mr. Everett must have appeared in "a free swing." 


delivered on the 
Third Anniversary 


South Carolina Historical Society 


Hibernian Hall, in Charleston 
on Thursday Evening, May 27, 1858, 


James Louis Petigru, 
president of the so. ca. historical society. 

It is the province of Reason to distinguish between right and 
wrong, and to deduce from that distinction rules for the con- 
duct of life. 

But Reason itself is not exempt from error. Theory and 
speculation often fail in doctrine as well as in practice, and there 
are no errors so dangerous as the mistakes of men in whom the 
faculty of reason is predominant, because they have the power, 
by persuasion and argument, of making those mistakes the 
source of pernicious opinions. Not to mention the disturbing 
influence of interest and passion, the seeds of error are so 
thickly sown, that Reason itself must lean on the authority of 

Many trains of thought, like streams that have no outlet, 

James Louis Petigru 327 

terminate in uncertainty: and there are problems in moral 
philosophy on which reason disputes in vain. 

Not individuals merely, but whole communities, are divided 
by opinions in which both parties are equally clear. There is 
many a debate, where there is no decision; and the judgment of 
one age is often reversed by the next. Thus the adherents of 
antiquity, under the name of Conservatives, and the partisans 
of progress, under the banner of Reform, wage an endless war. 
While by one party the clouds that obscure the sky are hailed 
with gladness, as harbingers of refreshing rain; to other minds 
the troubled atmosphere is filled with direful portents of the 
coming storm. On the other side, whatever is new is welcome; 
while with others, truth itself would be rejected, if it have not 
the stamp of antiquity. 

Though opinion assumes such various shapes, and whole 
armies are recruited for the defence of every sort of doctrine, 
they all equally appeal to the authority of Reason; nor does 
Reason spurn the appeal — for they all draw their weapons from 
her armory; and neither intellect nor acuteness in debate, can 
be denied even of the most dangerous fanatics, or the wildest 

It is History that comes to the relief of conscience when per- 
plexed by the conflict of opinion; and furnishes a guide for con- 
duct and judgment, when reason is at fault. It is to the human 
family what experience is to the individual. Precedent and 
example furnish a clue for arriving at a decision when the mind is 
bewildered by doubt. They show the difference between the 
line to be pursued, and that to be avoided; between the way that 
leads to ruin, and that which conducts to safety; and questions 
which Reason could not solve, are silently settled by Time. 

Time, which is the destroyer of the works of men, gives them 
History in return for what it takes away. The legacy is of 
inestimable value, but it has not always been transmitted 
through faithful hands. The truth which it is the duty of 
history to reveal, is often clouded with fable. Yet it is to the 
study of history chiefly that we are indebted for the skill that is 
necessary to separate the ore from the dross; to discriminate 
between the true and the false; between the tales of fiction and 
the phenomena of real life. In early times this operation was 
but very imperfectly understood; and in the narratives that 
have come down from a remote antiquity, truth and fiction are 
so intimately blended as to defy separation. The credulity 
with which things contrary to nature and experience are received 
even by able and observing men, becomes a marvel and problem 
for succeeding ages; that cherish, perhaps, on other subjects, 
opinions equally at variance with truth; destined in their turn, 
to be rejected with amazement as the exploded fallacies of an 
unquestioning period. As in the external world the senses are 

328 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

often unconscious of surrounding objects; so in the interior life 
of man, the mind may, for want of attention, be insensible to 
ideas that would otherwise be obvious. The jurists say, with 
justice, that nothing is certain which has not been questioned — 
for till the question is made, there is no comparison, and of course 
no judgment; so that, without an actual examination, it is 
impossible to tell whether anything received for true will stand 
the test of investigation; for it may have been admitted at first 
by indolence or inattention, become fixed by habit, and gradually 
acquired the character of public opinion. 

Although the difference between truth and falsehood is a 
distinction perceptible to the understanding of all rational beings; 
yet to discriminate between them in a complex proposition, 
where there is a necessity for comparison and reflection, requires 
the use of rules that are the later productions of a cultivated 
Reason. As long as History depended on tradition, and no 
contemporary memorials preserved its integrity against the 
defects of memory, or the interpolations of partiality or hatred, 
the line between fable and veracious narrative was scarcely 

The account of what happened in former times, was not only 
imperfect for the want of accurate information, but the narra- 
tive was varied by prejudice or vanity; by the desire of incul- 
cating the opinions, or gratifying the ambition of the writer. 
But when public registers of some sort began to be kept, con- 
temporary evidence checked the license of the imagination, and 
history assumes more and more the gravity of a moral teacher. 
The critical judgment of Polybius, for instance, is in strong con- 
trast with the credulous avidity of Herodotus. For though the 
Father of History, as he is called, is a lover of truth, and deserv- 
ing of confidence, when he speaks from his own knowledge; so 
that succeeding investigations have tended more and more to 
raise his character for fidelity; it must be acknowledged that he 
seems to have been sadly deficient in weighing the credibility of 

But there has ever been a wide difference between the tradit- 
ionary and the critical school in the appreciation of history. 
The prevailing style has varied with the state of public opinion. 
Till the revival of letters, the traditionary school had clearly the 
advantage in popularity, and it is not without wonder that we 
see that even the daring genius of Milton was so far subdued by 
the spirit of his age as to lend a sort of credence to the legend of 
King Brute and his Trojan Colony. 

With the revival of letters, as a more liberal way of thinking 
prevailed, a more strict adherence to truth was exacted in every 
branch of knowledge. But it is mainly owing to the study of 
history, and the light which has been thrown on the records of 

James Louis Petigru 329 

the past; that the critical judgment, for which modern times are 
distinguished, has been refined and improved. 

Recovering as it were from the sleep of ages, the human mind 
rejects the dreams that have been imposed on the world for 
history; and renders to truth the homage of an exclusive wor- 
ship. That which is asserted without proof is deemed unworthy 
of credence or even of refutation. Assertion is not enough with- 
out evidence, nor a witness without some voucher for his com- 
petency as well as his integrity. 

Authentic history may be said to commence with the times 
when historians began to avail themselves of contemporary 
memorials of the events which they undertook to describe. 
Our pride may be humbled by the reflection that after all we 
know so little of the past; that even the dim light of tradition 
throws no rays upon the beginning of the present order of things. 
Moses alone takes up his theme with the morning of creation; 
but his mission is not that of satisfying profane curiosity; nor 
is the sacred narrative a fit subject for the critical tribunal. 
But it may not be improper to remark of the two main features 
of that narrative, that his chronology, which assigns a compara- 
tively recent date to the first appearance of man on this globe, 
is corroborated by the investigations of science; and that the 
unity of the human race, a dogma consecrated by his authority, 
and dear to the sentiments of humanity, can not be disproved 
by reason. 

But the origin of nationalities, and the names of the great 
benefactors of mankind, who colonized the fairest parts of the 
earth, and made the greatest inventions, are buried in the dark- 
ness of oblivion. For great things, were done before the historic 
period began, and many great events, since that time have been 
so transformed by fable, as to come down to us in the form of 
Apologue and Mythology. 

But since men began to keep records and to raise intelligible 
monuments, new life is infused into the world by extending the 
pleasures of memory to the bounds of history; and elevating 
the enjoyments of hope to the height of an enduring fame. 
And whereas truth was once so mixed with error as to lie undis- 
tinguished in the mass of fable, she now shines with her own 
lustre; and though the path of life is beset with thorns, and the 
ascent is steep and laborious, the light of history irradiates the 
way; while the noble example of those who have gone before, 
encourages the generous souls who are willing to climb the hill; 
like the voice of companions calling from above to cheer and 
animate their efforts. 

Well may Cicero, great master of wisdom as of eloquence, 
exclaim: History is the evidence of ages, the light of truth, the 
life of memory, and the school of life. 

The South Carolina Historical Society aims at promoting 

330 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

historical studies, and preserving the materials of history that 
are derived from cotemporary witnesses. 

The public mind, in our country, is far more occupied with 
the future than the past. It is a very general complaint that 
our people are careless of records. The materials of history are 
treated very much like the noble forest, not to be surpassed in 
beauty, with which Carolina was once covered. It is delivered, 
without mercy, to the havoc of the axe or the ravages of the 
devouring flame. The supply is supposed to be inexhaustible, 
and the process goes on till the recklessness of waste is checked 
bv the alarm of approaching scarcity. We would interpose to 
protect the remnant of that noble forest which is threatened 
with extermination. We would be happy to lend our aid in 
preserving the memory of things remarkable or interesting, in 
our country, which are beginning to lose their hold on living 
memory. The labors, the trials, and dangers that have proved 
the endurance, or exercised the virtues of our countrymen, are 
in our eyes of sufficient interest to be preserved from neglect. 
We would inscribe with a name the battlefields of Indian and 
British hostility; and would fain prevent the soil that has been 
watered with blood poured out in behalf of the Commonwealth, 
from being confounded with common earth. Our labors, 
though unpretending, are accompanied by good intentions; 
and I am happy to say, encouraged by a benefaction from the 
State equal to our moderate desires. 

But the annals of our State have not been entirely neglected. 
The Colonial History has been written by Hewitt — a writer 
rather pleasing from his style than instructive by the depth or 
extent of his information. The subject has been treated by 
Ramsay and Simms in narratives extending to our times. 
Ramsay's History is the work of a man of liberal mind, engaged 
in professional cares, and pursuing literature as a secondary 
object. But he had been an actor in many of the later scenes 
which he describes, and abounds in information, the result 
rather of his own observation and intercourse with life, than of a 
careful examination of books. Of the period antecedent to the 
Revolution, a critical examination was not in his power, for the 
records were beyond his reach. They lie disregarded in the 
State paper office in London, and it is a favorite object of this 
Society to make their contents known by copies obtained from 
official sources. 

The History of Simms is a work of which parental affection 
may be proud, having been composed under its dictates, as we 
are informed by the Preface; to provide for a want that was felt 
in the education of the author's daughter. He deserves great 
praise for his attempt to reform the vulgar nomenclature of 
many places and natural features of the State, which are dis- 
graced by obscure or trivial names; and to restore the historical 

James Louis Petigru 331 

and oftentimes euphonious designations by which they were 
characterized in the Indian tongue. 

Valuable documentary materials belonging to the Revolution- 
ary period have been supplied by Drayton in his History, and 
Johnson in his life of Greene, to which the volumes published 
by Gibbs form a valuable addition; and the story of the war in 
Carolina may be read with pleasure in the soldierly narrative of 
Lee, and the lively pages of Weems, the biographer of Marion. 
Without dwelling on the laudable munificence of Mr. Watson, 
who has invested some rare old memoirs of the colonial times 
with all the splendors of Typography, we must not omit to 
notice the Historical Collections of Carroll, and the work of 
Rivers, on the Proprietary period; which is a foretaste of the 
pleasure and instruction which we may hope to derive from the 
progress of his labors in the same field. 

Perhaps the opinion is tinged with the partiality of a native, 
yet after making all allowance for the bias of patriotism, it may 
be said, I think, with justice, that the annals of South Carolina 
offer to the eye of the historian a field worthy of more than com- 
mon attention. 

The first scene partakes of all the interest of romance. The 
voyages of Ribault and Laudoniere carry the reader back to the 
period of the civil wars of France; and are connected with the 
great name of Coligny. 

France, by means of these voyages, impressed the country 
with a name but nothing more. It was intended as an asylum 
for French Dissent; and so, in fact, it became, but not under 
French domination. The sad fate of the Protestant exiles — the 
extinction of the hopes that had animated the great soul of 
Coligny, and led his adventurous countrymen to encounter so 
many sacrifices, is a gloomy picture; unredeemed by a single 
incident of a more genial nature, unless it be admiration of the 
noble DesGourges; who assumed the public cause when ne- 
glected by the State; and with a private hand avenged the 
insulted honor of his country. 

To the same shores, dark with the shade of the primeval 
forest, after long years of undisturbed seclusion, came the 
English Colony, under better auspices. It was an eventful 
period between the Great Rebellion and the Revolution. 
Society had been profoundly agitated, and the heaving billows 
bore witness of the recent storm. It was a singular colony of 
men who had fought in civil war on opposite sides, and were 
ready to do so again. It was equally an asylum for the oppres- 
sor and the oppressed. There royalist and republican, church- 
man and dissenter, found alike a refuge from the storms of life. 
Nor was it merely from the discordant elements of England or 
the British Isles that the strange medley was gathered. The 
rivalry of England and France, which has disturbed the peace 

332 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

of the world for centuries, was then at its height. They regarded 
each other as natural enemies, and on the continent of America 
their meeting was the signal of hostilities. But as every variety 
of living hing found refuge in Noah's ark, so in Carolina there 
was a strange meeting of the human race. 

The Protestants of France, that had waged many a hard- 
fought battle, and seen the downfall of hopes to which humanity 
might cling as to a promise of blessing, now turned their eyes 
again to the shores which, in the preceding century, had 
attracted the attention of Coligny. To Carolina they came; but 
no longer French — not as masters, but as suppliants for the rights 
of hospitality. Bitter must have been the struggle with which 
they had overcome the natural pride of the human heart, when 
they sunk the proud name of Frenchman in that of Protestant; 
and taught their children to speak an alien tongue. They came 
with small assurance of welcome to join a discordant throng. 
Though the Huguenots have been scattered far and wide, and 
given proof in every clime of the power that abides with sincere 
religious faith; nowhere, is it believed, have they been more con- 
spicuous — and nowhere has the sentiment of honor, so charac- 
teristic of their race, been cherished with more devotion — than 
in South Carolina. 

The heterogeneous colony received accessions from every side. 
The Germans added no small share to the increasing stock. 
The European exile and the African slave mixed in the throng, 
and every shade of color and opinion had its representative in the 
mass. Then there was, in the process of time, a contrast no less 
striking between the Upper and Low country. The Upper 
country was not peopled from the older part of the colony, but 
by a different race; and its inhabitants maintained few relations 
with the people of the Low country, from whom they differed in 
manners as much as in origin; and with whom their sympathy 
was as limited as their intercourse. So great was the difference 
that sixty years ago it was noticed in books of geography that 
these parts of the State differed among themselves more than the 
other States differed from one another. 

"If any city ever was in a state of inflammation, Rome at 
first was, being composed of the most hardy and resolute men, 
whom boldness and despair had driven thither from all quarters; 
nourished and matured to power by a series of wars, and 
strengthened even by blows and conflicts, as piles fixed in the 
ground becom - firmer under concussion."* 

Though the fame of Rome throws that of all other cities into 
the shade, and exposes even the mention of a casual resemblance 
to the suspicion of presumption; yet in one particular, we may, 
without exaggeration, challenge comparison. For though the 

*Plut. in vit. Numa. 

James Louis Petigru 333 

name of Numa, the Roman lawgiver, is renowned in history, it 
is too much mixed with imposture to be the theme of genuine 
admiration; but we had a lawgiver whose fame places him in the 
front rank of real living men. The men of wit and fashion in 
the Court of Charles II who asked and obtained the gift of 
Carolina, selected a philosopher for the lawgiver of the nascent 
colony. And such a philosopher! 

Locke was the friend of Shaftsbury, and he who shook the 
world by his Ideas — who sounded the depths of the Human 
Understanding, and walked undismayed to the brink of that 
abyss where lie the absolute, the incomprehensible, the unknown 
— he at the request of friendship compiled the first constitution 
for Carolina. 

No existing constitution can boast such an illustrious ancestry. 
In reference to the mind from which it emanated, it is indeed an 
interesting document. It possesses interest also as a sort of 
sea-mark by which it may be seen how high the tide, that has 
since swept away so many institutions, had risen in 1672. 

On examination, it will be seen that on the subject of religious 
liberty, the philosopher, though liberal, has many reservations; 
and in matters of State, his ideas conform to the pattern of the 
British Constitution rather than to any Utopian standard. 
But some of his notions might well excite a smile, and others 
might give countenance to the common opinion, that great men 
are unfit for public affairs. 

Shaftsbury, one of the Proprietors of Carolina, who with all 
his faults enjoys the undying fame of being the author of the 
Habeas Corpus Act, is the only person in modern history, neither 
priest nor lawyer, who was clothed with the highest judicial 
office; and took upon himself to be a Judge in the last resort, 
without serving an apprenticeship to the Law. And though the 
experiment was never repeated, the praise of a bitter enemy 
forbids us to regard it as a total failure. Perhaps the author 
of the Habeas Corpus Act will be more indebted for his fame in 
these lines, than to all that has been written in his behalf: 

"Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge 
The Statesman we abhor, but praise the Judge, 
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin 
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean; 
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress. 
Swift of dispatch and easy of access. " 

It was, perhaps, in deference to the example of his great 
friend and patron, that the Philosopher admitted into his con- 
stitution this article on the value of professional learning: 

"It shall be a base and vile thing to plead for money; nor shall 
anyone, except a near kinsman, not further than cousin-germain, 
be permitted to plead another man's case, until he has taken an 
oath that he does not plead for money." 

334 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

Another article will be read with surprise by some in the pres- 
ent day, and deserves notice for its historical value: 

"Every free man shall have absolute power over his negro 

Though we are justly proud of Locke as our first lawgiver, it 
must be owned, to the disparagement of philosophy, that his 
constitution had a very brief and limited sway. But this only 
adds one instance more to the lesson of history, that a constitu- 
tion can not be manufactured. It must be so far a spontaneous 
production as to proceed from and truly reflect the condition of 
things for which it is intended. The institution of a provincial 
noblesse, of seigniories, baronies and manors, new courts, and 
new notions of administering justice, were inconsistent with the 
real wants of the country, and hostile to the natural develop- 
ment of its resources. The constitution was quietly set aside, 
without having given rise to revolutionary measures. But all 
attempts to govern by a form of State which is not in keeping 
with the condition of the various interests which go to form a 
commonwealth, is a dangerous trial. The experiment was 
innocuous here, because the fulminating material was so minute 
in quantity. The Government was unarmed, and the people 
were at ease. The same experiment on a great scale shook 
the world with its explosions. 

In a society constituted like Carolina, much harmony could 
not be expected, nor is the judgment deceived by the event. 
Fierce party contests prevailed from the beginning, but there 
was no anarchy. The colony was preserved from that by the 
ascendancy of party. 

It is rather a discouraging fact for those who look forward 
to the indefinite progress of society, that the solidarity which 
should complete the edifice — which is the perfection of the prin- 
ciple of association — the harmony which secures the individual 
and the mass — is realized in the union of party, rather than in 
the union of all. But party is held together by a combination 
of those who have more than an equal share of power. 

The history of Carolina is no exception. The elective fran- 
chise was liberally diff^used, but the Test and Corporation acts 
guarded with jealousy the steps of the Provincial Assembly, 
as they did those of the Imperial Parliament; and the avenues 
of office were closed to all but the dominant sect. This state 
of things existed till 1778; a legislative fact, strangely ignored in 
the voluminous collection of Cooper, under whose revision the 
Statute Law of Carolina attained, in 1834, the bulk of ten 
quarto volumes. 

After fifty years of contention a revolution took place — 
the proprietary government was subverted, and the colony 
placed under the direct control of the crown. The spirit of 
liberty which all these circumstances combined to foster, made 

James Louis Petigru 335 

it very natural for this colony to take fire at any encroachment 
on their rights as British subjects, or to borrow the expression of 
Drayton, one of the leaders of the revolution, "the imperial 
people. " By such men the cause of independence was embraced 
with great ardor. But where there is freedom there will be 
many ways of thinking, and the question of independence was 
not one of those propositions about which doubt is inconsistent 
with integrity. 

There was in South Carolina a numerous Population, bound 
to the Government of the mother country, not only by the 
general sentiment of loyalty, but by the ties of gratitude for 
distinguished favors. They had received at the hands of the 
crown valuable lands as a free donation, which, by their industry, 
had been converted into thriving farms. 

The government was known to them only by its beneficence, 
and the very failings of the administration were calculated to 
prevent collision — to preserve the kindly relations that sub- 
sisted between the people and their rulers. It was the duty 
of the royal government to extend to all their subjects a regular 
administration of justice and a due provision for the instruction 
of the people. Both Church and State were justly chargeable 
with the neglect of this duty. But it is not improbable that the 
King was liked the better for not sending bishops and lawyers 
into those settlements, where people lived in a primitive sim- 
plicity. Some irregularities were the consequence of disturb- 
ances connected with the rise of a set of men called Regulators. 
But upon the whole, simplicity of faith suffered but little from 
the want of ecclesiastical establishments, and manners supplied 
the place of law. Upon an impartial retrospect, it is difficult to 
condemn such people for being contented with their lot. The 
evils which they suffered from the want of what might be called 
a vigorous administration, had some compensations. Perhaps 
they bore them patiently because they seemed to be the inevit- 
able concomitants of freedom and a frontier life; an opinion that 
derives no little countenance from experience. For if like causes 
produce like effects, the want of justice that gave rise to the 
Regulators is still a desideratum attested by the prevalence of 
lynch law. 

Whatever may be the cause, certain it is that the people of 
South Carolina, were on this, as they had been on many other 
occasions, greatly divided; and the war of independence in this 
State, was marked with all the bitterness of civil strife. It is 
for that very reason more interesting to the historian. 

Zeal in behalf of our country and our country's friends is 
commendable, and patriotism deservedly ranks among the 
highest virtues. But even virtue may be pushed to excess, and 
the narrow patriotism that fosters an overweening vanity and 

336 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

is blind to all merit except its own, stands in need of the cor- 
rection of reason. 

History is false to her trust when she betrays the cause of 
truth, even under the influence of patriotic impulses. It is not 
true that all the virtue of the country was in the Whig camp, or 
that the Tories were a horde of ruffians. They were conserva- 
tives, and their error was in carrying to excess the sentiment of 
loyalty, which is founded in virtue. Their constancy embit- 
tered the contest, but did not provoke it. Their cause deserved 
to fail; but their suff"erings are entitled to respect. Prejudice 
has blackened their name, but history will speak of them as they 
were, with their failings and their virtues, as more tenacious 
than ambitious; rather weak than aspiring; and show towards 
them the indulgence due to the unfortunate. And let it be 
remembered for the benefit of those who are influenced by a 
name, and pin their faith upon party; — for the instruction of 
those writers who, like unskilful painters, daub their pictures 
with glaring colors; that it was after the epithet of Tory had 
become perfectly detestable that it was freely bestowed on the 
Federalists, their most redoubted enemies. 

South Carolina has been taunted with the division of parties 
that marked the war of independence. It is the reproach of 
ignorance. The division is a proof of sincerity, of freedom, 
of manliness of character. It embittered the contest, it gave 
occasion for the commission of many crimes, but it was also the 
cause of opportunities for the display of the highest virtues. 
Rutledge will ever stand in the ranks of fame with the great men 
whose civil wisdom, courage, and fidelity were equal to every 
emergency, and proof against every trial. Nor is it wonderful 
that the name of Marion is inscribed on counties, towns and 
villages far beyond the theatre of his actions. For his character 
combines the virtues that appeal irresistibly to the instincts of 
the human heart. His courage, gentleness, simplicity, and 
superiority to interest or revenge, mark him as a fitting 
character for the gallery of Plutarch; and such a portrait as 
that great Limner delighted to draw. 

It is not our intention to enter into details, far less to attempt 
to do justice to all, or to even apart of the eminent men, to whom 
as citizens of this State, we are bound by the debt of gratitude. 
Let us leave to Bancroft, and the masters of the historic page, 
the ample roll of fame; and the honored task of inscribing a 
nation's gratitude on the tablets of memory. It is enough for 
us to have shown that our State has furnished some historical 
materials, and called attention to the objects of our Society. 

And now after having observed at some length on the com- 
posite structure of society, and the strong tendency of the people 
to fall into parties, the unanimity which for years has marked 
the public counsels of the State deserves to be mentioned as 

James Louis Petigru 337 

the unexpected solution, or successful development of the long 
continued drama. From the most heterogeneous we have 
become the most united of all the political communities on this 
continent. May that union be consecrated to peace, and the 
future history of the State contain the record of its steady 
advance in all the arts of life, and all the virtues that dignify 

The annual visit to Badwell this year was made in July. 


St. Michael's Alley, July 20, 1858. 
* * * We will leave in the cars on Tuesday, the 27th, at 
half after 8 in the evening. Major Welton and James and I, 
Caroline, and Louise, besides servants. * * * ^j^^ ^g ^jlj 
take a carriage with us and harness. So send one carriage, 
horses for another and a wagon for the rest. * * * ^^ ^j|| 
expect the cattle at Newmarket on Wednesday, 28th inst., and 
hope that we will not fail. If we do it will not be for want of 
will. * * * 

Your Brother. 

edward everett to petigru 

Boston, 20 July, 1858. 
My dear Sir: 

I have received your favor of the 16th,* and am much grati- 
fied to find that you derive satisfaction from the volumes of 
Carey; an uncomfortable man in his personality, I have heard, 
while he lived, and particularly so to the South, and I must own 
at one time not less so to the North, by his urgent recommenda- 
tions, in season and out of season, of a high tariff; but in his 
book, — at least in this copy of it — affording a notable example of 
"the right book in the right place." I bought this copy many 
years ago, on the joint recommendations of Mr. Senator John- 
ston of Louisiana, and Mr. Webster, who spoke of it as a 
valuable repository of documents throwing light on the Consti- 
tution and the state of things out of which it grew; and such 
indeed I found it. But the Constitution itself having been 
found to be a poor trashy concern, and the men who made it a 
set of ignoramuses, I have long since given up the study of their 
work as a waste of time, and devoted myself to the investiga- 
tions of cuneiform inscriptions and the most probable route of 
the Indo-Germanic emigration into Europe. On these really 
important questions in the 19th century, Carey throws no light, 

*Mr. Petigru's letter thanked him for Carey's Museum and sent him a copy of 
his own Address. 

338 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

and is to me, therefore, comparatively uninteresting, while to 
you he is valuable in reviving the associations of youthful days, 
and aiding you to live the past over again, and to this agreeable 
result I am too happy to have contributed. With respect to 
the Detroit trial, I was struck, with you, with the atrocity of 
the ofence^ but also with what I thought the atrocity of the de- 
fence; but perhaps I do not rightly estimate the duty of counsel 
to Christ, whom he can not doubt to be guilty of the most 
abominable crimes. 

I am truly rejoiced to hear of the improvement of Mrs. Peti- 
gru's health, and trust she will get through the summer com- 
fortably in her rural retreat. I have even flattered myself that 
one or two good laughs which we had together did her a great 
deal of good. I am inclined to think that we do not now-a-days, 
either in pharmacy, politics, morals or any of the other great 
concerns of life, take pains enough to keep the diaphragm in a 
gently excitable condition. 

Caroline, as you justly observe, is a good correspondent, as 
she is in everything else that is good. That she can find any 
pleasure in writing to such a piece of the old world as myself can 
only be explained from the unfathomed depths of woman's 
benevolence. * In charming me from some otherwise sad hours 
and the doubtful aspect of the times, her letters do for me what 
Carey does for you, — though I must think that my "Carrie" is 
to be preferred to your "Carey." But as you have them both 
and ever at hand you are rich indeed. 

With kindest remembrance to all at 103, I remain, my dear 
sir, sincerely yours. 

Edward Everett. 

The address which you mention having sent me has not yet 
come to hand. You do not say whether you received the odd 
volume of Carey by mail. Caroline can tell me, when she 
writes again. Please have it bound to match the other volumes. 


Marietta, September 15, 1858. 
My dear Sister: 

* * * Now if you want to know why I did not write 
yesterday I'll tell you why. I had never been to Chattanooga 
and had heard so much about it that I took the opportunity on 
Monday afternoon to run there, 120 miles; slept at the hotel, 
went up the mountain next morning, had a view of a glorious 
prospect of mountain, plain and river; came down to the common 
ground and took the car returning to this place, where I arrived 
last night again, and am now writing in Court, while Mr. Cobb 
is speaking, and happy will I be when his speech and his case are 

'James Louis Petigru 339 

at an end and I am seated again by the familiar hearth with you 
and Caroline around me. Till then, Good-bye. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

Badwell, 28 September, 1858. 
My dear Sue: 

When I was at Marietta, I was hard pressed by the necessity 
of listening to speeches 15 hours in the delivery, and the only 
way was to write in Court, with an ear to the Speaker and an eye 
to the paper. But, tho' I did scratch a few notes at intervals in 
that way, to let Aunt Jane know when to send for me, or Ma 
what I was doing, it is not an exercise for which I have a faculty 
like Paulsen, the chess player, who can keep up a dozen games 
at once. As Judge Frost came straight to the Island, I suppose 
you will have heard from him of the adjournment of Judge 
Nicoll's Court. It was just a fortnight between my departure 
and return to Badwell. In that interval, besides attending the 
long case of Bangs & the Blue Ridge, I have one day's respite, 
which I employed in an excursion to Chattanooga. I doubt if 
your geography extends so far, but there are a great many 
places in Morse or Make Brun less worthy of celebration, for, 
in addition to mountain scenery and the various hues of luxuri- 
ant vegetation, it commands a beautiful water prospect of the 
Tennessee River for miles. It is 120 miles from Marietta and 
I did not begrudge the time or the money that it cost. The cause 
that assembled six lawyers and led to a hearing of eight days has 
greatly excited the minds of the parties interested, as you may 
judge from the fact that though our adversaries are poor and 
hungry as wolves, they sent Mr. [Robert] Toombs $1000 before 
he left home. The debate was often conducted with warmth, 
but we parted good friends, and as Mr. Toombs lives on the way, 
I not only accompanied him to his house and spent a night under 
his roof, but was prevailed on by his unaffected hospitality to 
take his carriage and horses to Badwell. You can let Henry 
and Johnston know that tho' I did not quote Pothier, I read 
with great profit from Storey, who unfolds Pothier's sentiments, 
and that the demonstrative audience frequently discovered 
the leaning of their feelings in our favor. The general opinion 
was that the Judge was with us, and Mr. Toombs, when I sat 
down, said that I had damaged their case, which was a good 
deal for people, who had begun in a very lofty tone. On my 
way from Washington I dined with Mr. Simons and Miss 
Fanny Mathewson, whom you probably remember, and who 
inquired in a very friendly style after you. And now my dear 
that I mention you, my thoughts are turned to what is a very 
familiar subject: your situation in the midst of the yellow fever. 

340 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

I hope you take all reasonable precautions against the infection, 
and I can not but think that you are fortified by so many years 
residence in your birthplace, to be free from its attack; yet I am 
not without much uneasiness with respect to you as well as 
Johnston. He has intruded himself into the pestilence, and I 
would calculate certainly on his having a struggle for life, if not 
for a sort of analogy, which, tho' it has no real basis in reason, 
has some influence on the imagination. It is often seen that an 
enemy is quelled by meeting him half way and becoming the 
assailant instead of avoiding him, and one is very apt to apply 
the same remark to the destroyer that walks unseen. But with 
all my heart I wish he had stayed in Virginia when he was there. 
* * * I will not hurry like Johnston to meet the enemy, but 
there would be less credit in doing so, because the risk would be 
next to nothing to such a resident as I, and so old. Having 
nothing to gain in point of reputation therefore, I am not in 
haste, but having little or nothing to lose, I have no intention 
of putting off my return a moment longer than the calls of 
business reach me, * * * 

To those who did not know Mr. Petigru, or who knew him 
only slightly, the course he pursued with the Blue Ridge Rail- 
road is a revelation. The corporation had fallen among thieves 
and was sued in different States for sums which the claimants 
had never earned. Mr. Petigru defended the road with zeal 
and success. In payment of his great services the president of 
the railroad company offered him a check for a large amount, 
with an expression of regret that it was not larger. Mr. Petigru 
returned the check, and though it was pressed upon him, was 
resolute in refusing to accept any fee. The defendants had been 
wronged and that was enough to secure his sympathy and ser- 
vices. Installments on the shares of the railroad for which he 
had subscribed were uncalled for and unpaid. The company 
proposed to give him credit for the whole amount. This propo- 
sition was likewise rejected and he handed to the company his 
own check for the unpaid installments. It must be remembered, 
too, that he was not rich. Nor was this the only case in which 
he was resolute in refusing a fee, even from a corporation. 

He was often employed and consulted by the British Govern- 
ment, especially in reference to colored British sailors in the 
port of Charleston. On one occasion, when the British ministry 
then in power had specially engaged his services, he sent in a 
bill for £20. His daughters cried out upon him, declaring with 

James Louis Petigru 341 

great truth, that he could have as easily made out one for £100 
and been more highly thought of for doing so. But he was 
inexorable. Upon this or some similar occasion the British 
consul* returned to the office an opinion with the complaint 

that it was not punctuated. "Tell Mr. ," said he, "that a 

legal opinion should be written in such English as will express 
its meaning clearly without the aid of punctuation."! 


Badwell, 22d October, 1858. 
My dear Alfred: 

Your congratulatory letter 9 days ago, just as the votes for 
Senator were counted, gave me three days of unmitigated 
respect for the Sovereign People. But when a stray newspaper 
from the Village, anticipating our Post, brought the account of 
the rout among our friends, it was like the news of defeat after 
Te Deum for a victory. My friend Johnston has, by this time, 
I suppose, digested the affront the best way he can. If misery 
loves company, there is plenty of that, and if there is any con- 
solation in a stoical contempt for external fortune, there is every 
opportunity to practice it for the benefit of our townsmen, who 
have left out Nelson Mitchell, the leader, and very nearly 
excluded Simons, the Speaker, from a seat in the House. On 
comparing the names of the 18 with those of the rest, one can 
not but feel that there is a great advantage in deciding by lot. 
We shall, no doubt, see the time or other people will, when it 
will be considered quite a privilege to be allowed to draw straws 
for places of honor, and to throw "even or odd" for our head 
man. Our chance, between Henry and Mordecai, would have 
been as good, and for the House, ten times better. The leaves 
are beginning to fall, and it is a pleasant sound to hear the acorns 
as they come down to the ground with a clatter, renewed with 
every gust of wind. But it all reminds me that I ought to be at 
work, and I hope my friend Porcher is ready to lift the quaran- 
tine and bid me come home. Do tell him so for me. I long 
to see you and talk over the things that we have seen, as seated 
under your hospitable roof, or pacing up and down the pavement 
in Broad Street. I hope Mrs. Huger is able to go through her 
task of doing good day by day without failing in health; and in 
resolution and spirit I know she never will fail. Adieu. 

Yours, J. L. P. 

*Robert Bunch. 

f Anecdote from Joseph Blythe Allston. 

342 ^?A, Letters and Speeches 



Historical Investigations; James Late; Lecture to Willie; 
South Carolina Railroad Bridge; Revival Stirs Abbe- 
ville Atmosphere 

to w. noel sainsbury, london 

Charleston, S. C, January 10, 1859. 
Dear Sir: 

I have seldom been more gratified than by your three letters 
of the 4th, 6th & 9th of November, and so far from thinking 
your Bill extravagant, I am sensible that you are entitled to 
thanks from me, not only for your diligence in pursuing the 
inquiries, but for the humane and moderate estimate you have 
put upon your services. I am obliged to you too for the 
Literary Gazette^ which I have read with more than common 
interest on your account. Have the goodness to mark me as a 
subscriber to your forthcoming publication on the life of Reubens 
and send the book as well as the Bill to Fraser & Trenholm. 

Your researches have brought to light many circumstances 
respecting my worthy uncle E. Gibert with which I was unac- 
quainted. Should you be inclined to publish any account of 
him and his works, you have my full consent, and indeed I 
would be glad of it, and wish to see it. I have no idea of doing 
anything of the kind myself. But if you do write, I would sug- 
gest a caution against receiving implicitly something said by 
Mrs. Grut. I do not believe he was brought up among Roman 
Catholics, for the family settled at Alais in Languedoc have 
always been Protestants, having probably had their minds 
imbued with sentiments adverse to Rome since the days of the 
Albigenses. I have also great doubts of the account of his 
having at one time leaned to Socinian principles; for such a 
statement is at variance with all our traditions. I have con- 
versed with two persons that remembered E. Gibert and from 
them have learned that he taught the French language in Lon- 
don at an early period after his emigration. How he came to be 
patronized with the appointment of Chaplain I have never 
heard. Nor did I ever hear till I received the information 
from you of his being distinguished by the notice of Lord Auck- 
land. I am afraid that it is too late to gain any further advices 
of my good Great-Uncle; and can not but regret that his corres- 

James Louis Petigru 343 

pondence where we would have been hkely to get some insight 
into his Hfe and adventures, has perished. 

Now I wish to engage you in another pursuit — the investi- 
gation of an obscure subject — the Life of Louis Dumesnil de 
St. Pierre. Mr. Rivers tells me he has forwarded to you a copy 
of our second volume, of the Collections of our Society, made up 
in great part of materials furnished by you. If he had not done 
so already, T would. At page 194 Extract from Vol. XXV 
under date 1771 Dec. 18, his name is found. He is connected 
with out traditions, but I have no other account of him, except 
of a duel, and of his fall in a battle with Indians. But there is 
a book called " St Pierre on the Vine, " which I have a notion was 
written by this man. It was in a Public Library in Columbia, 
that I saw it, but in the lapse of time it has disappeared. You 
can no doubt get at the book through the British Museum. I 
request you to see whether it contains anything to identify the 
writer with our St Pierre: and if there is anything to be learned 
besides concerning the St Pierre whose name is connected with 
New Bordeaux, it will be a very acceptable present. At all 
events I will ask you to transcribe the memorial, which your 
Extract refers to, and any other papers that seem to throw light 
on the subject. 

There is another inquiry more hopeless in which I would be 
glad to enlist your services. It is to ascertain something of the 
history of one Jean de la Howe, who was a conspicuous figure 
among the people of New Bordeaux. He died in 1797. He 
left a considerable property to found an agricultural school, 
which exists in a flourishing condition; but those who enjoy the 
bounty are ignorant of almost everything touching their bene- 
factor except his name. He was a native of Hanover, and served 
long as a surgeon in the English Armies. If there are any 
records, in which the names of the Medical Staff are preserved, 
I would be glad to know what is said of him. He was French in 
his character tho' he spoke English with facility and must have 
been in South Carolina as early as 1760. 

I will add only one more topic, which is to inquire whether 
Joseph Samuel Pettigrew, Practitioner of Medicine, and as I 
have understood a lecturer on Egyptian Antiquities, is living 
and where. 

My friends in Liverpool will honor your drafts, for what you 
may draw on my account, which will be paid with thanks. 
Dear Sir, of 

Yours truly, 

Mr. Petigru regarded want of punctuality as a grievous 
offence. One Sunday after church his grandson, James, not 
feeling very well, retired to his room after taking the precaution 

344 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

to tell Sandy, the head waiter, to call him when the guests, 
before dinner, assembled in the parlor. As was usual Sandy 
told Sam, and Sam told Tat, the fly brush boy, and he was sent 
out on an errand; each one doing his duty by shifting it to some 
one else. When James was notified he hurried down. When he 
reached the foot of the stairs expecting to enter the parlor on the 
left, Sammy, with a flourish, opened the dining room door to the 
right. Here to his horror were about a dozen people already 
seated at the table. He did not have the presence of mind to 
run, but feeling innocent of any delinquency politely went 
around the table, shook hands, and took his seat. 

That night when he was quietly reading at the dining room 
table about nine o'clock, Mr. Petigru returned. He saluted him 
as usual and resumed his book. Mr. Petigru walked up and 
down two or three times and then sharply said, "My friend, I 
want a word with you. " He then spoke of the want of respect 
and rudeness towards his guests as well as himself, that had been 
shown by one coming in late to dinner with a scowl on his face, 
and disturbing the whole party. James meekly said, "Allow 
me to explain, sir, that I certainly had no intention of showing 
want of consideration or disrespect." He said, "There is no 
explanation, sir. Your conduct speaks for itself, and as to 
intention, do you suppose that when a man is hung from the 
gallows, he started life with the intention of being hanged?" 

When he paused James bolted from the room to the hall, 
seized his hat and, in a fury, rushed out of the house, slamming 
the street door with a tremendous bang. To let slam any door 
in the Broad street house was an unpardonable crime. Mrs. 
Petigru's bell was immediately heard to jingle violently; once, 
twice, three times. This was to summon her various maids to 
inquire about the outrage. James immediately made up his 
mind to run away to sea. He went to the dock, but he did not 
find there the usual "ship in the stream" awaiting him. How- 
ever, a shipkeeper told him to come back in the morning. Sud- 
denly he heard the last bell begin to ring, and he then remem- 
bered that he had promised to bring home his cousin, Adele 
King. He soon told her his trouble. She ^aughed at him for 
having come into the dining room, but immediately took up his 
cause. It was a beautiful moonlight night and they walked 
around the Battery. She soothed him, and, being a young 

James Louis Petigru 345 

woman with a deal oi common sense, advised him to go home, 
and to insist on teUing the whole story to his grandfather in the 
morning, and make his peace with his grandmother as best he 
could. However, things had taken a lucky turn. Whenever 
anything unusual was going on in the household there was always 
sure to be someone listening at the door. Nanny, the first maid 
of Mrs. Petigru, was censor of the establishment. She had 
reported that "Ole Massa holler at Mas' Jeams an' mak 'um 
cry, an' he run outa de house an' dat mak de doah slam," con- 
sequently Mr. Petigru was the culprit and James the injured 
party. To reach his room James had to pass the door of Mrs. 
Petigru. To his surprise it was open, and she was on the watch 
for him. She in a gentle voice hailed him, "Come here, my 
son; come here, my son. " Everything had been smoothed over, 
and with the greatest sympathy she listened to his story. Just 
then Mr, Petigru, bedroom candle in hand, entirely uncon- 
scious of any storm, passed the door. She called to him, and 
with a look of resignation he faced the coming tornado. Then 
ensued a most comical as well as a most painful scene. She 
insisted that James should explain why he was late for dinner, 
which he did in a few words. Mr. Petigru listened with patience 
and then said: "James, I find that I have done you a great 
injustice, and I humbly ask your pardon and forgiveness." 

There are few men of seventy who would thus speak to a cub 
of fourteen. This episode effected an immense change in the 
boy; from having been inclined to be rebellious he was com- 
pletely subdued by this magnanimity. It served to draw 
grandfather and grandson closer together. Mr. Petigru ceased 
to speak ironically of James as the " amiable misogynist. " The 
boy overcame his awe and soon found him a most delightful 
companion. Ever afterwards Mr. Petigru would ' request," 
or say "it would be most gratifying to me for you to" do so and 
so, and his slightest wish was most cheerfully obeyed. 


Charleston, June 17, 1859. 
My dear Sister: 

* * * No news could have pleased me more than that the 
acorns have come up, for I was very dubious about them. The 
notice was an augury of good fortune, for today we have an 

346 Life, Letters and Speeches 

intimation that the Bridge* case is reversed, which is $30,000 
to the railroad and a great deal to me in credit. Though at 
three-score and ten credit is not as joyful a it was fifty years 
ago, yet even age has its sensibilities. I returned from Savan- 
nah on Wednesday morning. The rumor of Thursday may be 
groundless, but it is something to have come so near success to 
divide opinion, even if one has not succeeded. 

Johnston has sailed. His man, Nat, desired me to say to his 
master when I wrote that he was already counting the days till 
he should see him again. Said I, "Nat, is that sincere, or does 
it come from the teeth outwards?" "Sir," says he, "it comes 
from my heart." With poor Nat's sentiment I will conclude 
and not be ashamed to appropriate it to myself in relation to 
you and Mary and Badwell. 


Badwell, 5 September, 1859. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * Our atmosphere has been stirred in an unusual 
degree by a revival in our neighborhood, which has become a 
perfect storm. It began on Friday, the 27th August, so this is 
the 10th day of active preaching and praying. A prayer meet- 
ing in the morning, two sermons during the day and the inter- 
vals filled by psalms and hymns. And what is really strange 
to me, on Sunday last, Mr. Hill, the preacher, seemed as fresh as 
if he was just beginning the campaign. I was rendered very 
sorry by a letter on Saturday from one Clenkscales, who says 
he has Sammy's wife, and rather than part them offers to buy 
or sell. The wife would be of no use to me and I have no right 
to sell Sammy, for he belongs to Ma, and I more than doubt 
whether she will be as willing to make a sacrifice for the mar- 
riage union as I. * * * 

Your Papa. 

*The South Carolina Railroad bridge from Hamburg to Augusta. Mr. Petigru, 
considering that he had only defended the railroad from an act of injustice, 
declined to make any charge for his services. However, the railroad presented 
him with six acre lots in Summerville. 

'James Louis Petigru , 347 


Slavery; Besselleu; George Broad; Passage to Liberia; 
The Smalley Case; Old Tom; Return of a Miscreant; 
Daddy Lunnon 

As regards the institution of slavery, Mr. Petigru held the 
same views as did Washington, Madison and other fathers of 
the Constitution. In one of his letters he writes: "So much am 
I a disciple of Locke and Montesquieu that my mind does not 
balance between freedom and slavery." 

He considered slavery in itself a great social and political 
wrong and the ruin of the States of temperate climate. As he 
lived in a community where slaves as property were recognized 
by law, he did not think it a wrong inflicted by himself on 
"Sandy" or "Nanny," but a wrong to humanity. He well 
understood the capacity and limitations of all of those who came 
under his hand. He, with the greatest forbearance and patience, 
tried to improve their moral and physical condition and thus 
raise them in the scale of civilization. In writing about his 
plantation December 25, 1835, he says: "The only thing to 
flatter my vanity as a proprietor is the evidence and striking 
improvement in the moral and physical condition of the negroes 
since they have been under my administration. When I took 
them they were naked and destitute. Now there is hardly one 
that has not a pig, at least, and with few exceptions they can 
kill their own poultry when they please." 

"I have heard him say that in the condition of the negro in 
this country the happiest lot for him was to belong to some 
humane master whose interest it was to protect him as property 
and thus secure to him the enjoyment of those few rights which 
the law allowed him."* 

Although his ideas of slavery were diametrically opposed to 
the general view of the South he was no abolitionist. His 
respect for law, justice, and estabhshed institutions caused him 

*Lecture of J. D. Pope. 

348 -^i/^) Letters and Speeches 

to deprecate any sudden change as being equally mischievous 
and cruel to the black man as well as to his owner. 

He was always a Freesoiler, was opposed to the extension of 
slavery over one foot of free soil, and would have been glad to 
see it shut in the States where it existed and die out a natural 
death by competition. A few days after the firing on the 
Star oj the West in Charleston harbor, he said,* "I never believed 
that slavery would last a hundred years; now I know it won't 
last five." 

The rights of free negroes Mr. Petigru was always defending. 
He was a champion to whom they flew as a sure refuge. The 
following letters are grouped, regardless of their chronological 
order, for the purpose of more clearly displaying Mr. Petigru's 
attitude of mind toward slavery and the general condition of the 
negro in the South. 


St. Michael's Alley, 18 July, 1853. 
Dear Sir: 

Toney is a man that has the confidence of his owner, and of 
course a character among people of his degree, that he would 
not Hke to lose; and in that I think he is right. You are guar- 
dian, I understand, for a free man, or a man not free, belonging to 
Mrs. Verdier, called Richard, a stable keeper in St. Philip street. 
He has accused Toney of poisoning his horses. I have no doubt 
that the accusation is nothing more than the expression of gen- 
eral ill will and that he does not believe it himself. But as I 
have reason to suppose he has made you acquainted with his 
story, and as I stand towards Miss Webb in the same sort of 
relation that you do to Mrs. Verdier, I request your assistance to 
quell this quarrel. I have forbid Toney going near Richard's 
premises, or meddUng with him, and if you think it right I hope 
you will do as much by your man, and am Dear Sir, 

Yours truly, 

P. S. — What I mean is that Richard keep clear of speaking of 
Toney, and learn that even a negro's character is of some 
account, and ought to be respected by another negro. 

He did not stop to count the cost, when he, aided by Joseph 
H. Dukes and Charles H. Simonton, the latter then a young 
lawyer and afterwards judge of the United States District Court, 

*Lecture of J. D. Pope. 

James Louis Petigru 349 

instituted proceedings in the nature of ravishment of ward to 
establish the freedom of Archie and John, two colored pilots in 
Charleston harbor, upon the ground that for very proper 
reasons these quadroons with their mother had been emanci- 
pated under the humane provisions of the act of 1800. The suit 
failed, but Mr. Petigru believed he was right. He believed that 
they had been unjustly deprived of their liberty, and so believ- 
ing he struck in their behalf.* 

He did not stop to balance the consequences when he took 
up the cause of the illegitimate children of George Broad, a 
foreigner by birth, and for many years an inhabitant of St. 
John Berkley, who died at an advanced age, about the first day 
of May, 1836, without ever being married; leaving an old slave, 
an old woman and her eleven children and two grandchildren 
who were acknowledged by him as his natural offspring. By 
his will he gave the mother and children and all his estate to one 
John R. Dangerfield in trust expressly for them without the 
inter-meddling of Dangerfield, further than might be necessary 
to secure to the slaves the full use and enjoyment of the said 
estate. Dangerfield took possession of the old woman and her 
children and grandchildren, and the estate. He permitted the 
slaves to have the use of their own time according to the will; 
but sold three of them and sold the real estate and appropriated 
the money to his own use. After his death his son affected to 
treat the said slaves as the bona fide property of his father. 

Petigru was of the opinion that policy as well as humanity 
and justice forbade the attempt to reduce to servitude people 
who had been practically free people of colour all their lives. 

He caused the property to be escheated to the State; and this 
done he proceeded to procure by his own personal influence the 
emancipation of these unfortunate persons by act of the legis- 
lature December 19, 1855. That the parties were poor and 
friendless, and wronged, furnished a sufficient reason for his 
action. His sense of right rebelled at the injustice that those 
who were intended to be practically free should be reduced to 
the condition of absolute servitude.* 

*J. D. Pope. 

350 Life^ Letters and Speeches 


Colonization Rooms, Washington City, 
28 February, 1854. 
My dear Sir: 

Your esteemed favor of the 24th inst. is ackd. and I am happy 
to answer the inquiries which you have made. Those "able 
bodied men and women," if of good character, could do well for 
themselves in Liberia. 

It will cost $60.00 each one, on a general average, to transport 
them there, and support them six months, until they are accli- 
mated and can take care of themselves. They ought to be well 
supplied with clothing, tools and implements of husbandry; 
with cooking utensils and table furniture, and whatever is 
necessary to the comfort of "new comers in a new country"; 
for they are expected to live in their own houses, on their own 
land, and dependent on themselves. I hand you herewith 
"Information about going to Liberia," which will be of much 
advantage to the kind friends who have a care for these people. 

I send you herewith a copy of our last Annual Report, and 
remain Yours, dear sir, with true regard, 

W. McLain. 

The Smalley case was another that aroused the indignation 
of Mr. Petigru. Smalley was an unfortunate creature of no 
means but Mr. Petigru compelled him to bring action for dam- 
ages. Without hope of fee or reward Mr. Petigru confronted 
men of wealth and influence, some of them personal acquaint- 
ances if not friends. It was on this occasion he advised a friend 
of the opposite side to absent himself from the trial, "for," 
said he, "I shall be compelled to say some unpleasant things." 
His speech was most eloquent and masterly, and his modest 
account of his efforts, shown in the following letters, gives httle 
idea of the effect it produced on all who heard it. 


Columbia, December 2, 1854. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * I made out pretty well on Thursday. Got a ver- 
dict for a low Yankee whom the gentry of St. Bartholomew's 
had abused and treated like a dog merely because he was a poor 
Yankee: not only got a verdict, but an exemplary one — $2,500. 
The vigilance committee had determined that no Yankees 
should come among them and, in pursuance of this determin- 
ation, seized this man, a wood chopper, tied him and carried him 

James Louis Petigru 351 

to jail, and under the ridiculous pretense that he had stolen a 
piece of rope, whipped him pubhcly. General Martin and Mr. 
Treville defended the action, and labored hard to involve my 
client and me in the odium of abolitionism. But they signally 
failed. This case has been the only thing in my head for the 
last week. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to william elliott 

Charleston, 14th December, 1854. 
My dear Elliott: 

* * * So you have heard of Smalley and are under the com- 
mon mistake of supposing that the Verdict was the result of a great 
speech. I give you my word, that the speech did not satisfy 
even myself, an indulgent sort of man at any time and certain 
to be so in this case. It was, in fact, a mere improvisation. 
Not one of the good things, that I had in my mind, was broached. 
The gallant Ingraham, who covered the Austrian brig with his 
guns, because Kosta said he claimed the rights of a citizen; 
Calas, in whose behalf Voltaire roused all Europe; Verres and a 
whole army of such instances, all disappeared. Treville made 
such a downright appeal to party and prejudice and called for 
a verdict; on grounds that confounded me with my client to 
such a degree, I felt so much for my own wrongs, as to forget the 
victims of historical wickedness and tyranny. The speech, if 
it could be recalled, therefore, would not come up to your antici- 
pations or even those of less fastidious judges. I had said to 
Tom Rhett, that I defended Smalley as I would defend him, if 
he was in the hands of a fanatic crew, that were going to try him 
as a kidnapper, on suspicion. Treville arraigned me for the 
saying, as putting Rhett on the same footing with an abol- 
itionist, taking for granted that Smalley was one. I commenced 
by reasserting what I had said and denying that, in doing so, 
I had said anything inconsistent with Southern Honor. That 
was my guard and the event showed the superiority of the 
sentiments that are common to humanity, over temporary 
excitement. The Legislature have really done all they could 
to make the case their own. Farmer was made Master-in-Chan- 
cery, avowedly to enable him to pay the verdict, and Treville 
Lieut. -Governor, to console him for his defeat. I am afraid 
poor Farmer will never get security, for, his friends are very shy 
of that sort of solidarity. * * * 

Your friend, 

Tom and Prince were inherited by Mr. Petigru's mother from 
her brother Joseph Gibert. About four years after her death in 

352 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

1830, Prince, the elder, whose wife belonged to a neighbor, came 
to Mr. Petigru and said that as he had long been a faithful ser- 
vant of the family he thought he ought to be free, and he wished 
to be so. His desire was immediately satisfied and he received 
his papers of manumission. Then Tom was called and asked 
if he also desired to have his liberty. He replied that he had 
his wife and his children with him and was contented, and said, 
"I shall remain as I am." Tom was always a privileged 
character. At Badwell he had his house, his field, his pony, his 
cows, pigs, chickens, and also his jug. At Christmas he received 
a present of $20 in gold. During the winter he came to Charles- 
ton and paid visits to the various members of the family. At 
the house of Mr. Petigru, in Broad street, he was treated as a 
distinguished guest; but in the yard he was not looked upon with 
much favor by the delinquents. The savage came out and it 
was often with difficulty that he could be restrained from 
straightening out the whole establishment. He maintained 
that "Marse Jeems had more sassy, no-'count niggers in his 
yard than anybody in the city. " Every afternoon after dinner 
Tom was invited to the back piazza, a decanter was brought and 
he had his dram of brandy. Mr. Petigru would seat himself on 
the steps and he and Tom would tell old stories, and judging from 
the laughter they must have been very amusing. At his death 
he was buried in the family graveyard not far from the grave of 
the old pastor. A tombstone with the following inscription was 
erected to his memory: 

Daddy Tom 
A faithful servant and honest 

Departed this life 
The 9th day of February 1857 
Born on the place before 1776 
A kindly temper a cheerful 
Obedience and willingness to work 
Concilliated the regard of those 
Who treated him in his 
Life time, as a friend 
And caused him when he died 
To be buried like a Christian. 

James Louis Petigru 353 

Mr. James R. Pringle, Jr., used to tell with great gusto of an 
occurrence in 1841 which greatly amused him and his fellow- 
students in Mr. Petigru's office. It seems that one night when 
he was returning home he came across a negro who had been 
arrested by a "guardman" who asserted that the pass was 
wrong. The negro, who knew Mr. Petigru, appealed to him. 
The trouble was the guardman was a German who could not 
read English. Mr. Petigru explained to him that the pass was 
correct and that he had no right to arrest the man, hearing which 
the negro immediately bolted. The guardman then attempted 
to arrest Mr. Petigru for releasing his prisoner, at which Mr. 
Petigru promptly knocked him down and quietly went home. 
The next morning he received two summonses from Mayor 
Mintzing's office which he politely dismissed. When the third 
summons was sent he said to the messenger, "My friend, it is 
most fortunate that I am an humble and peaceable man, and 

you tell Mintzing that my advice to him is to go to h and 

teach his Dutch myrmidons to speak English and not molest 
law-abiding citizens on their way home." 

While Mr. Petigru was always ready to aid all who had any 
possible claim on him, he was intolerant of anything like a base 
spirit. Out of regard for the family of a man who had been 
convicted of whiskey selling and sentenced to be whipped, Mr. 
Petigru exerted himself to have the sentence commuted to 
banishment from the State, with the condition that if the party 
should return the original sentence should be executed. The 
man left the State and stayed away a year or so, but the pressure 
of want and perhaps the force of early associations induced him 
at last to give up the struggle. He returned and took his whip- 
ping. Some time after he came unexpectedly upon Mr. Petigru. 

"What brought you back to South Carolina.^" cried the latter 
in indignant tones, the danger signal on his forehead showing 
forth in flaming scarlet. 

"Please, sir, Mr. Petigru, I could not make a living any- 
where else." 

With withering scorn Mr. Petigru retorted, "Wasn't hell 

Mr. Petigru's cook was called Daddy Lunnon and was, 
probably, the most celebrated artist in the city. Hamlet, a 
younger negro, was handed over to him as an apprentice. One 

354 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

afternoon Hamlet came to Mr. Petigru with his head tied up, 
complaining that Daddy Lunnon had knocked him down with 
a stick of wood. Lunnon was summoned and stated that Ham- 
let was the most "no-'count nigger" he ever had known. 

Mr. Petigru remonstrated with Lunnon about his harshness 
and proceeded to give him a lecture about the training of youth, 
— that he must be gentle, that he must encourage them, that he 
must strive to develop their moral nature. 

Lunnon listened to him with a most pitiful look. When he 
paused, Lunnon said, "You have me for cook, sir?" "Yes." 
"Do I cook to suit you?" "Yes, Lunnon, no one can do bet- 
ter." "You sent Hamlet to me to learn to cook?" "Yes." 
"Well, sir, I learned my trade from Davie Deas and the same 
Davie Deas do for me, I do for Hamlet." 

With an air of triumph he went to his dominions andfMr. 
Petigru, discomfited, retired. Hamlet eventually learned to 
cook, and, in turn, with his apprentices, continued the system of 
Davie Deas. 

James Louis Petigru 355 



Edward Everett; White Sulphur Springs; Working on 
Code; Political; Law about Guns; Miss Cunningham, 
Mt. Vernon; Toney Drunk; Political; Secession of 
South Carolina 

to edward everett 

Charleston, 3 January, 1860. 
My dear Mr. Everett: 

I have a great deal to thank you for; and have been but slow 
in acknowledging your various good offices, in the books you 
have presented; rendered more valuable by your autographs. 
But like the ungrateful race who are always more prone to ask 
for new than to render thanks for past favors I am about to 
make application for a still more signal exercise of your benevo- 
lence. For it is nothing less than a high degree of charity to 
lend one's self to such a service as that of becoming a petitioner 
for another. And it is just that, which I have the temerity now 
to wish to impose upon you. 

In the year 1 858 at the sitting of the Supreme Court of Massa- 
chusetts in Boston was decided the case of Atlantic Bank vs. 
Merchants Bank, which called forth from the Court a judgment 
which Themis herself might have dictated. The facts are pub- 
lic; the decision has been made known, and the readers of the 
Monthly Law Reporter are even advised of the names of the 
distinguished counsel who were deemed worthy of being intrusted 
with the argument of such a cause. But Little & Brown say 
that Ch. J. Shaw has still reserved his opinion, and that 8 Gray, 
in which it is to appear, still labours in the press. Nor do these 
worthy bibliopolists seem to profess any influence over the publi- 
cation. It so happens that a case exactly similar (which is 
rather breaking in on Lord Coke's authority ''Nullum simile 
currit quatum pedibris'') is to come on before Chf. Justice 
O'Neale and his assessors in a couple of weeks. The Bank of 
Charleston occupy the very ground that the Atlantic Bank 
stood upon, and they .would think no price dear for a copy of 
Chf. Justice Shaw's opinion. And if by influence or by money, 
the Reporter could be induced to furnish a copy in MS. or in 
print, or if the venerable Chief Justice would condescend to 
allow a copy of his judgment to be taken in advance, as well as 

356 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

that of the other members of the court, it would be a prize for 
our friends greatly to rejoice. 

My dear Mr. Everett you can judge whether it is practicable 
to obtain in whole or in part our desire for a report of this case to 
answer the present emergency, and to this end if you will lend 
your aid the favor will never be forgotten by my friends or by 
yours truly, 

P. S. — My daughter has reached home after much suffering 
at sea, but is greatly comforted just now by a spell of cold 


White Sulphur Springs, 5 September, 1860. 
My dear Huger: 

* * * Yi^e chief discourse, here, is about Lincoln, for the 
election is only another name for the topic that involves the 
many shades of opinion concerning the probable results of having 
such a President. Of late, however, the notion of his being 
elected does not prevail so exclusively. The company, here, 
contains a great number of Bell & Everett men, and the fusion 
of them and the Douglass men in New York, inspires the san- 
guine with some hope that New York may be rescued from him; 
and without New York, it is very reasonably inferred that he 
can not be elected. But, even if we are doomed to disappoint- 
ment, and he carries the day by the popular vote, I don't think 
South CaroUna will secede. If such a thing, however, shall take 
place, we may spare our regrets, for it will prove that disruption 
was inevitable. No possible issue could be more untenable than 
to make his bare election a causus belli, without any overt act 
against the Constitution or even, the Dred Scott decision. If 
our planters were in debt, or cotton was at 5 cents, as I have 
seen it, such a thing might be likely; but, our magnanimous 
countrymen are too comfortable for such exercise. Therefore, 
I don't believe they are going to set fire to the Union, though 
there are members, no doubt, that would like it. Mr. Brecken- 
ridge is likely to fill a place among the folks that are remembered 
as examples of the sport of fortune. The split in the Democratic 
party comes in the nick of time to mar all his hopes. His 
friends, who endorse his own declarations of his devotions to the 
Union, say that it is impossible for him to bear the load of South 
Carolina friendship with Yancey upon it. Douglass runs to 
beat him, and if he is beaten, Douglass gains; but, he doesn't 
run merely to beat Douglass, and the cup of disappointment will 
have nothing in it to relieve the taste of the nauseous draft. 
There is nobody here like Mr. Wirt, but, Mr. Morton, the chief 
authority, is a very gentlemanly man, and I take great pleasure 
in his company. We are going to the Sweet tomorrow, with 

James Louis Petigru ZSl 

very little inclination on my side. I hope Mrs. Huger has come 
through the summer bravely, that Charlotte is well and the 
children well, and that you my dear friend, are well enough to 
take some interest in the otherwise dull effusion of 

Your friend, 

P. S. — Since closing the last page, I have seen Vanderhorst, 
and when I told him I was writing to you, he desired me to make 
him remembered, regretted you were not here and said he don't 
write, because he had nothing to put to paper. 


Greenwood, September 26, 1860. 
Dear Sister: 

* * * The indications from the papers are that a set of 
Secessionists are to be run, and the chance of our friends does 
not seem bright. * * * 


Summerville, October 3, 1860. 

* * * Johnston was in North Carolina; whether he has 
returned I don't know. His name is withdrawn as a candidate 
and Henry's also, and we are likely to have a precious set of 


Summerville, October 16, 1860. 

* * * I have been working away with might and main in 
Schroeder's loft upon my task [the code] and have Lowndes & 
Middleton now with me, who are docile and diligent auxiliaries. 
I think we will not stay much more than a week longer in this 
place if we can help it. Johnston comes sometimes to see us 
and spends a night, but never more than one night at a time, 
though he confesses that the pine land air is good for him and 
even acknowledges that he likes it. I received one letter from 
Caroline and one from Sue, but it was just as I arrived. Since 
that time, which you may not remember was the 27th September, 
I have heard nothing, except by a letter of Caroline to her 
mother. She was then in New York, and through Mr. Ban- 
croft's interest had received an invitation to the Prince's ball. 
* * * But I will not defer to another time my love to all 
and everybody that is — Mary and Louise and Carey and 
Charles, and the boys at Wilmington and the children at Cherry 
Hill, not forgetting my greeting to the poor nigs, and last, and 
not by any means least, you, the first and eldest sister of 

Your Brother. 

358 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

In the year 1859 the legislature passed an act providing for 
"such a code of statute law as, if enacted, might, in connection 
with the portions of the common law that would be left unaltered 
constitute the whole body of law in this State." 

The work was entrusted to a single commissioner with the 
aid of assistants of his own selection, and attaching a higher 
salary to the office than that of any other State officer. 

The importance as well as the difficulty of the work indicated 
that a person of extraordinary abilities was contemplated for 
the work. The choice of the legislature fell on Mr. Petigru, 
whose talents, reputation as a jurist, general learning, high 
character and indomitable industry was well known. The 
salary of the commissioner was fixed at five thousand dollars 
per annum, payable quarterly, with power to employ two or 
more assistants to receive jointly four thousand dollars per 
annum. He was also authorized to expend five hundred dollars 
for the purchase of such books as were not in the public libraries 
of the State. 

The following year, according to law, he submitted a report 
to the legislature; he stated that the general arrangement of the 
work had been borrowed from Blackstone. 

The tautology and verboseness of Parliamentary style in respect 
to gender, number, mode and tense, which add nothing to the 
sense and greatly obscure the meaning to the mind of a reader 
was inconsistent with the purpose of a code, and in this under- 
taking had been necessarily avoided. 

He pointed out where the laws were confused, contradictory, 
or absolutely deficient as to the title to land, the conduct of 
criminal cases, breach of trust, or destruction of a will. The 
delicate power to suggest amendments, alterations and additions 
to the existing laws was very sparingly used. 

The war had come on, yet such was the force of his personal 
reputation that in the very fury of secession he, an avowed 
Union man, was chosen to codify the laws of the State, and the 
appointment was annually renewed by the legislature, every 
member of which was a sworn secessionist. 

After three years of grinding labor with many disadvantages 
the work was finished. He wished to present it with an address 
to the legislature at that session; afterwards it was proposed 

James Louis Petigru 359 

that he should do so to the commissioners appointed to receive 
it at his office. 

They twice called on him for the purpose, but he was too ill to 
receive them. 

Nothing was done towards the adoption of the code until 
after Mr. Petigru's death. The legislature in 1865, when things 
were in a most chaotic condition, referred the matter to the 
House Judiciary Committee, which reported adversely to its 
adoption on the ground that the work embodied as law the views 
of Mr. Petigru as to what the law should be. Reference to the 
statute creating the office shows that that was exactly what the 
legislature which authorized the work had intended should be 
done. But of the committee of seven, of whom only five being 
present, three of them voted to reject it. 

During the Republican administration, Corbin, the Attorney- 
General, modified this code in imitation of that of Vermont. 
Subsequently a committee headed by Charles H. Simonton, 
afterwards United States Judge, revised the code, adopting 
Mr. Petigru's suggestions and recommendations as to new laws, 
but instead of using his system of having it divided into chapters 
in imitation of Blackstone, it was considered more convenient 
to refer to the various acts by numbers. 


Summerville, 28 October, 1860. 
My dear Sir: 

I am very much obliged by your "Life of Washington," 
which I have read with great interest, and think a valuable 
addition to American Biography. The events of his life are 
related concisely and clearly, and the interest of the narrative 
is not overlaid by collateral history. Such a Biography is well 
adapted to become a school book, and nobody could wish any- 
thing better for the rising generation than that their sentiments 
and their style should show that they were familiar with the 
Life of Washington. But I fear that our aspirations for the 
future, must be referred rather to the generation that is to come 
after the rising generation than to a less distant period. The 
prevailing character of our public men is certainly copied after 
anything rather than Washington. The most shameless egotism, 
and the most sordid ambition, are so far from being in disgrace, 
that they assume in the common mind the rank of popular virtues. 

But the ensuing week may be fraught with events that would 
go far to redeem the character of the people, which now suffers 

360 -^i/^j Letters and Speeches 

awfully in the discredit that justly attaches to their favorites. 
My own countrymen here in South Carolina are distempered to 
a degree that makes them to a calm and impartial observer real 
objects of pity. They believe anything that flatters their 
delusion or their vanity; and at the same time they are credulous 
to every whisper of suspicion about insurgents or incendiaries. 
If Lincoln is elected it will give the Union a great strain; yet 
still I don't think that this State will secede alone; because the 
country is too prosperous for a revolution; and the same reason 
is likely to keep Alabama and Georgia from taking the plunge. 

If Lincoln fails and our ticket comes next, — two very doubtful 
contingencies, I suppose, — there certainly will be reason to think 
better of Demos, and to be doubly thankful to Providence. 
Hoping while there is hope and thinking more and more of the 
debt which society owes to those who imitate the virtues and 
spread the influence of Washington, I am my dear sir, 

Yours truly, 


Summerville, October 29, 1860. 
* * * My task proceeds slowly. It is extremely tedious 
to pick out the meaning of various Acts and weave them into 
something like a consistent discourse. James Lowndes and 
Middleton are very assiduous and perfectly willing, and if we 
only had to copy the work would grow rapidly in bulk. I have 
begun to print and go down tomorrow to examine the proof- 
sheets. My days pass very monotonously and I see no one 
because I have no time for conversation during the day and too 
much fatigued to go out at night. * * * I am afraid Tol- 
bert has the law on his side about the firearms.* It is not con- 
sidered neighborly to interfere in such a case. The law about 
negroes is laid down with great rigor and if it was put in force 
constantly, would greatly interfere with the comfort not only of 
the poor nigs, but the poor buckra, too. The master would 
be in a situation like that of the jailer, whose confinement is 
almost as strict as that of his prisoner. But in the distempered 
state of the public mind we must expect to meet with some 
annoyance, and if our neighbors think fit to confiscate our guns, 
we must take it as one of the penalties of society. 

*J. P. Carson had lent his gun to Andrew to shoot squirrels, and it had been 

'James Louis Petigru 361 


Summerville, November 5, 1860. 

* * * Miss Cunningham,* through one of her assistant 
secretaries, writes me that Lincoln's election is likely to blow up 
Mt. Vernon, for though the purchase money is paid there is 
nothing to stock it, and contributions are almost at a stand. 
Before we hear from one another the die will be cast, but I don't 
think the hazard so great as many do, for it is not easy to undo 
the complicated machinery of that great engine or government. 
Adieu. Your Brother. 


Charleston, 10 November, 1860. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * I am surprised that you are so indifferent about 
returning, as not to have fixed any time yet. It is not a pleasant 
place to return to; nearly the last hope of safety is cut off by the 
last news from Georgia, implying the consent of the majority to 
follow Carolina. We shall be envied by posterity for the privi- 
lege that we have enjoyed of living under the benign rule of the 
United States. The Constitution is only two months older than 
I. My life will probably be prolonged till I am older than it is. 
I must write briefly, and have actually just turned a gentleman 
out of the office, because his business was not important enough 
to justify interruption. I saw little Addy Wednesday was a 
week, when I snatched a brief interval with our Cherry Hill and 
George Street friends in the car. Adieu. 

Your Parent. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, 13 November, 1860. 
My dear Jane: 

You see how saving I am getting to be, as I will not waste a 
sheet of paper because it is scratched. There is certainly reason 
for it, and we have fallen on evil days. It is sorrowful to see 
things that impair our respect for our countrymen, and nothing 
can be more efficient to produce that feeling than the scenes that 
are passing. It is barely possible that Georgia may recoil from 
the [action] that the Secessionists are driving to. The South 
Carolina men show by their precipitancy that they are afraid 
to trust the second thought of even their own people, and if the 
Georgians take time to reflect they will probably come to the 
conclusion that there is no necessity for action. But that is 
very uncertain. 

*Miss Ann Pamela Cunningham, Regent of the Mount Vernon Association. 
Mr. Petigru was always her legal advisor, and wrote the constitution of the 
Mount Vernon Association in 1856. 

362 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

* * * Last night the West Point Mill was burnt; the 
Governor had $5,000 in it. I was commiserating him and Joe 
under the load of debt that they are caught in this revolutionary 
day, when this new addition to the Governor's troubles is upon 
him. * * * Adieu. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Broad Street, November 20, 1860. 
My dear Sister: 

Poor Beasley! Who would have thought that he would earn 
a name in history as a secession victim. But these things all 
are awful foreboding of what is to come when the passions of 
the mob are let loose and the truth is our gentlemen are little 
distinguished in a mob from the rabble. * * * 

I am very busy with the code and still backward. 


Charleston, November 27, 1860. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * The prospect does not improve. There is little 
hope of reaction till too late. I am going to Columbia tomorrow, 
with a portion of my report and John Middleton will bring up 
the rest, I hope, on Saturday. I have no idea that they will 
continue the commission, for they will have more to do than they 
know how. 

* * * One remarkable thing is the prevalence of fear 
among them that are rushing into an unnecessary and untried 
danger. It appears that Ben Huger is to leave the United States 
service and take command of the South Carolina army. I've 
no idea that there will be any fighting until war breaks out on 
the frontier. Our friend Johnston is busy in the throng. He 
is going to take command of the new rifle regiment here and is 
full of fight. 

The Governor [ex-Governor AUston] goes up to Columbia 
with me. He is very serious and seems to appreciate the 
trouble ahead. He comforts himself that the Yankees are to 
blame for everything; but that is but a "flattering unction." 
I am glad that the people show a good disposition and I hope 
that they will disarm the suspicions of the sensitive Southerners 
by attending strictly to their business and giving no offence. 


Columbia, December 6, 1860. 
My dear Sister: 

* * * I am glad that James is with you and likely to 
acquire a love of the country, but God knows where our country 

James Louis Petigru 363 

may be. In this place there is unanimity and there is discord, 
both in the highest degree. All are galloping down the same 
road and every one striving to be ahead. More jealousy among 
the members and more mutual distrust I have never seen. My 
prediction is that from this seeming unanimity will proceed, in a 
short time, bitter animosities and divisions. But, though 
generally it may be a consolation to think of a reaction when 
the public mind is distempered, it will probably come too late 
for us. To think of a sober man like Allston avowing his readi- 
ness to sink the welfare of his country forever, if that be necessary 
to carry out Secession, rather than submit to the rule of Abra- 
ham Lincoln, even if he were assured that Lincoln would prove 
a constitutional and conservative ruler! My old friend. Dr. 
Porcher, has not escaped the contagion; even he, the host of 
Henry Clay, is ready to cut the tie of country between us and 
all free States. Buchanan's message is out. You will see it in 
Dr. Gibbes' paper. Like himself, it is a shuffling, insincere and 
shabby performance. He has receded from one point to another 
until he has given up all pretension to the respect of anybody. 
The Secessionists will not be interfered with, at least by him, and 
his pusillanimity will not conciliate the South, but will greatly 
disgust those States that are attached to the Union, and lead, 
perhaps, to a general repudiation of the Constitution as an 
inefficient and inadequate scheme of government. It is still 
somewhat doubtful what Georgia may do; and the fate of the 
country hangs on her decision. 


Charleston, December 24, 1860. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * Caroline is greatly inclined to take James north for 
his education. The present state of things here may well make 
us all doubt whether it is such a habitation as promises security. 
I do not undertake to advise upon it. I made a great mistake in 
1832, when I might have quit the country myself, with the pros- 
pect of doing something. Here I have stayed till the active 
period of life is over. I could not leave Badwell without a 
struggle now; then it was comparatively indifferent. It would 
have been easy to take you along then, but now you are ramified 
into such a cluster of associations that I could hardly hope to do 
so. But Mary would be easier to persuade if she was willing. 
If she held back there is none out of my own house that I could 
count upon to share my exile. So if they don't push me to a 
decision, I suppose that without even deciding I will wait here 
till it is all over. 

The officers of the Army and Navy are much stirred by the 
present commotion. Jack Hamilton has resigned. That was 

364 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

to be expected, after the example of his brother, Dan. But I 
have heard with astonishment that James North is considering 
the question. It would be a great mistake. He is a Virginian; 
Carolina gave him birth, but who is to give him bread if he comes 
here? A Southern navy is a poor dependence. It could offer 
to his ambition nothing better than a gunboat. And to look 
to the new Republic for patronage would be a sore disappoint- 
ment. Great diversity already exhibits itself among our seces- 
sionists. Those who have contributed most to getting up the 
excitement openly contemn all idea of forming a second associa- 
tion after the plan of the United States; and they are likely to 
carry the day. 

I am glad to find such an evidence of a respect for justice as 
the example of a man like Jennings venturing so much trouble for 
a free negro. I am much more surprised at the integrity of the 
Alabama man than at the villainy of our Edgefield friends. 
For, really, when the opening of the slave trade is making such 
progress, it is not wonderful that men should apply the principles 
to a case where the temptation is so great. * * * You may 
see in the papers things to make you think that the poor fellows 
in the fort here are likely to be killed or captured. You need 
not grieve for them, but for the fools that make the attempt. 
All Charleston and all the volunteers can not take Fort Moultrie 
by assault. 

Yours in brotherhood and parentage, 

On the 20th of December, 1860, the Ordinance of Secession 
was passed. The Hon. J. D. Pope relates the following: 

It will be remembered that the Convention adjourned from 
Columbia to Charleston and sat in St. Andrew's Hall. On the 
morning of the passage of the Ordinance of Secession I was 
going down Broad Street and saw Mr. Petigru coming up 
towards me. We approached each other at the City Hall, and 
just at that moment the bells of the city pealed forth in gladsome 
and general unison. Mr. Petigru rushed up and exclaimed: 
"Where's the fire?" I said: "Mr. Petigru, there is no fire; 
those are the joy bells ringing in honor of the passage of the 
Ordinance of Secession." He turned instantly and said, "I 
tell you there is a fire; they have this day set a blazing torch to 
the temple of constitutional liberty and, please God, we shall 
have no more peace forever." 

In an instant he turned and was gone. 

James Louis Petigru 365 


January-March, 1861 

Edward Everett; Comments; Governor and Mrs. Pickens; 
Shuffling Buchanan; Davis Becomes President; Elected 
Honorary Member Massachusetts Historical Society; 
Foreseen Defects in the Constitution of the U. S.; 
No Near Solution of Fort Sumter Entanglement; Visit 
OF Lamon and Hurlbut 


Charleston, January 9, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

I would be very glad to see you and Mary, but you will come 
to a town where there is war. For they fired on the United 
States flag this morning and beat off the unarmed steamer 
Star of the IVest, with stores and men for Fort Sumter. Day 
before yesterday they killed a man at Castle Pinckney, where 
Johnston is. He was killed by a sentry by accident. He was 
the first victim of the war and died by mistake, and the war 
itself is a mistake. Henry is on duty, too, but where I know 
not. My clerk is gone without notice, and but for a little chap 
who came the other day to study law I would be altogether alone. 
Caroline, in a letter of December 30th, speaks of coming this 
month. She wrote by the same mail to James and I forwarded 
James's letter, so that I suppose he got it last Friday. I hope 
that you and James will come together. But if you can not 
come, or think that you ought not to come, James must come 
alone, for his mama will be mortified if she does not meet him 
here. * * * 

This morning I saw by the Courier that James North's resig- 
nation was no such thing, and I immediately wrote him a letter 
of warm congratulation. I would not offer advice to him no 
more than to Phil. I am so far relieved that Phil has not rushed 
in with his resignation like poor Tom Pelot; but I fear that the 
pressure will be too great for him to resist. A commission in 
the Southern Confederacy will be just the thing for Pelot, but 
for our nephew I think it will be more respectable to take to some 
new business than to spend his life skulking among the marshes 
in a pitiful service. 

366 ^c/i^) Letters and Speeches 

* * * I have not advertised for a miner, but wrote to 
Major Gwinne. The Major is drilling Pickens' army on Morris 
Island. If you get the man from the Court House could he act 
as law screener? * * * 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, 16th January, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * I am afraid that Pickens meditates an assault on 
Fort Sumter. My fears are for Johnston. I've no doubt that 
he will be exposed to the heaviest fire and — how dreadful his 
loss would be! It is certainly bad policy to resort to active 
hostilities while things are in such a state of confusion. No 
understanding between South Carolina and the United States; 
no understanding among the people of South Carolina itself, 
whether they will negotiate for themselves or for the South. 
No treaty exists between the State and any other Power, nor 
is it understood whether the State would make any treaty at all, 
or where the treaty would be. 

Johnston came up on Sunday and dined with us in a great 
hurry. He intimated that he was going to Morris Island with 
his command, but gave no clue to his orders or what he expected. 
Henry is soldiering at the Arsenal. I have a clerk just now, but 
last week I had not even so much. There is no business done 
by the Appeal Court. Two of the Judges attended, but the 
Legislature resolved that they should not call the docket. 
* ^* * * Your Brother. 

to edward everett 

Charleston, 20 January, 1861. 
My dear Mr. Everett: 

If the value of the Chief Justice's opinion, alone, be considered 
your favor of the 19th, received only yesterday, would deserve 
great thanks; but the obligation is greatly increased by the 
proof it affords of your attention and regard. Singular as it 
nxay seem, it is still in time for the immediate purpose for which 
it was wanted almost a year ago. But the causes which prevented 
this much desired succour from being too late, are not them- 
selves subjects of gratulation. First I was sick; then Mr. 
Mitchell on the other side was ailing, and lastly, the State 
itself being in the throes of a Civil convulsion, suspended for 
three months the sitting of the Supreme Court; and so the case 
stands over till the first day of April next. The cases are so 
much alike that I am tempted to send you a statement of the 
Charleston case, with the brief prepared for the Court of Appeals 

James Louis Petigru 367 

for your comparison or Ch. Jus. Shaw's if you think it would 
amuse him. 

The events, which I suppose all good men that are not under 
the spell of a popular delusion must deplore, are in full progress 
here. And the bitterness of spirits with which I witness the 
downfall of my country, is only qualified by wonder and aston- 
ishment, that the apathy and carelessness that mark the behav- 
ior of men otherwise respectable. 

It seems to me that our minister, Mr. Faulkner, was singularly 
unhappy in referring to the superior constancy of a free people 
to the defence of their institutions. TheNaples dynasty has 
more friends in the very scene where their offences have shocked 
mankind, than the Constitution in the Cotton Country. A 
rising against authority upon pretexts as light as our Southern 
wrongs would be put down anywhere else without ceremony. 

Yet after all, if the Government is better than the people 
deserve, what is to hinder them from abusing their privileges.'' 
It is but poor comfort when one suffers to reflect that it is merit- 
able, and yet that seems to be all that is left us. 

Yours truly, 


Charleston, January 29, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * I saw Louise and Joe last night at the Governor's 
[Pickens]. It was a tea to the Commander-in-chief and his 
wife. And his wife is a very pretty woman and refined. Not 
answering at all to preconceived ideas of a dashing Western 
belle. As for the commander-in-chief he is as windy as ever. 
* * * The Legislature were to have adjourned last night, 
but did not. They have confirmed all the Governor's appoint- 
ments. Some of which give much satisfaction and some are 
severely criticised. 

I really believe they are going to attack Fort Sumter. There 
is no sense in it. The attack will entail on them the reproach 
of shedding the first blood — and if they succeed it will inspire a 
great feeling of hostility in the populous regions, more embittered 
because it will be laid to poor Buchanan's door on account of 
his double-dealing and shuffling. Johnston is still on Morris 
Island. I have not seen him for a fortnight, nor heard of him 
except by common fame, which says he is busy. James has a 
bad sore throat. I advised him yesterday to keep to his bed. 
He spurned the advice, of course, as everybody does who has 
the opportunity of showing how little he thinks of anything that 
experience can say. * * * 

I have received a letter from Caroline in much better spirits. 
But she does not seem to think with complacency of coming 

368 Life, Letters and Speeches 

South. I thought if poHtics disturbed her she might seek 
refuge with you. To my mortification she says she lives in fear 
of insurrection. I had no idea that she was the victim of such 
idle rumors. But every day discloses to us new proofs of human 
weakness. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

St. Michael's Alley, February 4, 1861. 

* * * The sky is still as dark as ever. This is the day the 
border States are to meet at Washington and the cotton States 
at Montgomery. There is nothing to be expected from the 
last, and but little from the first, but division and discord. As 
a sign of the times, I may mention that I just now met George 
Ingraham showing, with exultation, his brother, the Captain's 
letter, coming home with his wife and dozen children, leaving 
the pay of him and his two midshipmen, equal to the interest on 
$100,000. Now, considering what a screw George is, can any- 
body say less than that this is an epidemic; when a fellow like 
George is ready to open his purse to a whole family of beggars 
for an idea. It is true that they expect South Carolina to pro- 
vide for them, but they must know the vast difference it will 
make to live on the charity of the State instead of enjoying the 
bounty of a nation, with its honors. But if George Ingraham is 
ready to sacrifice everything to sentiment, it is plain there must 
be something in the air. * * * 

Chancellor Dunkin met the Bar this morning to try such cases 
as both sides were willing to try. No persons will feel the change 
of the times more than lawyers. If it was not for codification 
I don't know what I should do for the coming year. Yesterday 
we had the favor of the Governor and Mrs. Pickens to dine. 
The Governor does not show off any great airs and Mrs. Pickens 
is very amiable. 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

St. Michael's Alley, February 13, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * Things look more favorable since Jeff Davis has 
superseded Pickens. I don't know that Pickens is more 
bloody-minded than Jeff. But as the Southern Confederacy 
has taken the subject under their jurisdiction common decency 
will require that they negotiate with Washington. Heretofore, 
in all questions between the United States and any State, it was 
necessary for States' rights that the United States should sub- 
mit to any indignity and yield to the States the liberty of crow- 

James Louis Petigru 369 

ing. Probably the Southern Confederacy will be so far consid- 
erate of their dignity as to treat the United States as an equal 
and enter on the question of ceding the forts with a diplomatic 
intent. And in that case the business will end in a treaty. I 
hope it will be so and that the garrison will be withdrawn. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

Charleston, February 19, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

As you say we prize opportunities more as they become rare. 
No wonder then that letters are privileges, seeing that we have 
but one mail per week, and don't know how long we will have 
even that. In fact it is surprising that the United States are 
still recognized at the Postoffice, the only place where Uncle 
Sam is allowed to show himself; being turned out of every other 
house. * * * 

Johnston is in town again — was relieved yesterday. Col. 
Gregg succeeded to the command on Morris Island. John- 
ston is not at all the worse for his turn of duty, and he has 
earned a good deal of reputation. * * * 

Your Brother. 

Mr. Petigru had been elected president of the South Carolina 
Historical Society some years before. He delivered the inaug- 
ural address — an able and eloquent paper — perhaps the most 
able public oration he ever made. 

In February of this year, 1861, he was elected an honorary 
member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He replied 
to the notice of his election in a letter which has since been pub- 
lished among the papers of the American Historical Society. 
It reads as follows: 

Charleston, February 25, 1861. 
My dear Sir: 

Nothing could exceed the kindness of your note, giving me 
notice of the honor done me by the Massachusetts Historical 
Society. To be chosen for a colleague and an associate by such 
a society is a distinction of which anybody might be proud, but 
it is rendered much more flattering by the way it is announced. 

I remember with the greatest distinctness the hours which 
I passed so many years ago in the house of your venerable 
father, as well as under your hospitable roof. * * * How 
willingly I would make any sacrifice that might avert from our 
common country the consequences of that miserable discord 

370 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

that now prevails between communities that ought forever to 
be united. I say miserable, for such we may certainly deem a 
controversy odious to the best men on either side. History will 
adjust hereafter a degree of reprobation due to each party, but 
I venture to say that whatever may be thought of the motives 
of the actors, their folly will be as much the subject of wonder as 
of censure. We are here in such a disturbed condition that the 
things that are going to happen in a week are as uncertain as if 
they belonged to a distant future. 

With great anxiety for a peaceful solution of the difficulties, 
but with very little hope, I am. Dear Sir, 

Very truly and sincerely yours, 

J. L. Petigru. 
The Honorable R. C. Winthrop. 


St. Michael's Alley, February 27, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * Our poor Caroline seems under a spell when home 
is talked of. In her last (18th) she seems as far from deciding 

on the day to return as H was when B 's happiness was 

at stake. I don't wonder that she shrinks from it, for there is 
nothing here that will give her pleasure except a few friends. 

The papers I send contain an account of Miss Tupper's flag 
presented to Johnston's regiment and allusions to a conspiracy 
against Lincoln's life. It is amusing to see the way the Courier 
moralizes on it, to show that Lincoln must be a bad man because 
people want to murder him. As if the murderers were the 
examples and the murdered men the warning. 

I saw James North this morning looking bright and cheerful. 
Very different from poor Hartstene, who looks the image of 
regret, nor does Ingraham or Tom Huger hang out the banner 
of a willing mind. Johnston is gone to James Island with some 
400 men, I saw him in full feather for the first time, issuing 
from the Institute Hall with the flag. I felt proud of his 
soldierly bearing. * * * 

Your Brother. 

to william carson 

Charleston, 2 March, 186L 
My dear Willie: 

The course of time has been very productive of events since 
you went away. A revolution has been inaugurated here, and 
with the most surprising unanimity men and women, boys and 
girls glorify the change, and are as proud of their apostasy as if 
they were sure of the verdict of history. They have adopted as 

James Louis Petigru 371 

an article of faith the propagation of slavery and are as firm in 
their new profession or calling as the Mormons or early Mahome- 
tans. None are so full of this new born zeal as the clergy, 
including in this term the preachers of every denomination from 
the Roman Catholics to the Baptists. Bands of volunteers 
parade the streets daily, and rumors of an intended assault on 
Fort Sumter succeed each other with such rapidity that they 
have lost in a great measure their interest. Major Anderson 
with 60 or 70 still holds that place. All the other forts are 
garrisoned by State troops. Your cousin Johnston giving into 
the general sentiment and being put the head of a regiment of 
Volunteers is no longer a pale inmate of the obscure building in 
St. Michael's Alley, where he used to pore over dusty books in a 
foreign tongue; but bestrides a gallant steed, with gay trappings, 
long spurs and bright shoulder knots. 

Next Monday a new scene opens in the drama. Abraham 
Lincoln is to assume the chair of State, and in a short time a 
decision will be made on a most interesting question: no less 
than this, whether the Gulf States with Georgia and South 
Carolina are to be suffered to go in peace, or whether repressive 
measures will be resorted to for the purpose of keeping them 
under the control of the Union. My opinion, Willie, is that 
they will be allowed to go. It seems to me that such is the 
true policy of the Government. The Government of the U. S. 
has a marked and singular difference from all others in this; 
that it has no other means of extending its authority over other 
people but by annexation — and it can only annex by admitting 
the conquered country as a Territory or a State. It could not 
turn these seceding States into a Territory because the Consti- 
tution admits of no such thing, and it is only the Constitution 
that binds the States together. Then as to the other mode of 
dealing with people outside; by admitting them as a State: 
that would be to reverse the condition of conqueror and con- 
quered by giving up all the kinds of victory and admitting the 
enemy into their camp and councils. 

This fatal defect in the Constitution was foreseen by Wash- 
ington and his enlightened compeers; but the prestige of his 
name with the material interest so evident in adhering to the 
Union has kept it out of sight till now. The States that are 
true to the Union might very probably put down the military 
force of the seceding States, but when they have done that, 
what is to be the issue.'' They would have to change the Consti- 
tution to meet the case. But to change the Constitution in its 
essential character is a Revolution, and is no cure for the evil 
in the eyes of those who are anxious to preserve it. 

Therefore I think that the States that adhere to the Consti- 
tution will be compelled by the necessities of their situation to 
let the Gulf States go without any way to prevent them. If any 

372 Life^ Letters and Speeches 

way does grow immediately out of secession it will probably 
arise out of the pretension of Louisiana to control the Mouth of 
the Mississippi. 

Nobody can tell what the end of all this is to be — but it can 
not be for good. As to the Southern Confederacy, it is formed 
on principles that are hollow, and rotten, on the shallow conceit 
that all nations will pay tribute to King Cotton; and that our 
new reading of "The Whole Duty of Man" will be accepted by 

Nor is the prospect encouraging in the other point of view, 
viz, the effect of the disruption on the remaining States. The 
success of the project for going out of the Union at will, demon- 
strates the fallacy of attempting to combine the principle of 
unity with that of separate independence of the States; and 
makes the Constitution a mere cobweb. And when it comes to 
be so considered, it will be despised and disowned and a general 
disintegration must follow. 

While these changes have been going on in the external I am 
glad, Willie, to observe that a change has taken place in your 
interior system; and from your letters I recognize the develop- 
ment of your ideas. Take your mother's advice. Go to Frey- 
berg. Study metallurgy, prepare yourself to enter the arena as 
a man, and a candidate not only for business, but for honor. If 
you prefer the law I will not object, but do all for you that can 
be effected by the efforts of your affectionate 


In illustration of Mr. Petigru's intense devotion to the Union, 
on the Sunday when prayers were first offered for a president of 
the Confederate States, the following story has been told:* 

"Mr. Petigru was present, occupying one of the most promi- 
nent pews, and hardly had the words been uttered when he 
arose and left the church in emphatic disapproval of such doc- 
trine. All admired the tall old man as he strode down the main 
aisle and forth from the sanctuary though few perhaps felt as he 
did. If such there were they feared to follow his example for it 
was commonly said that he was the only person in Charleston 
who dared to do such a thing." 

It is rather ungracious to spoil a good story, but the facts are 
as follows: 

It is true that he left the church as stated. A few minutes 
after, his friend Mr, X., who at that time was a strong Union 
man, with great dignity solemnly marched out of the church. 

* Atlantic Monthly, February, 1884. 

James Louis Petigru 373 

After the services he met Mr. Petigru in front of the church and 
expressed his indignation at the new prayers. Mr. Petigru 
laughingly replied, "Why, X., I was not disturbed by Jeff Davis, 
but only wanted to cough, and rather than disturb the congre- 
gation by my noise I left the church." However intense may 
have been Mr. Petigru's feelings, he always held himself under 
perfect control, and was not given to making theatrical exhibi- 


St. Michael's Alley, 6th March, 1861. 

I have received. Dear Sister, yours of the 4th. It shows how 
great is the difference between those that are favorites of the 
Government and those who are not. Nor is there any accommo- 
dation more to be prized than a well regulated Post. If the 
Government had stopped the mails as a consequence of Seces- 
sion, it would have been very severely felt, and I don't know now 
how we will do when that measure is adopted, as I suppose it 
must be. The President's Inaugural is significant of measures 
that will likely lead to the use of force. Johnston thought it a 
prelude to arms; it was in his hands I saw it first on Monday 
evening, and he left me for his post on James Island, with the 
idea that when we met again he might be crowned with laurel; 
while to me the thought that was uppermost was, that perhaps 
it was our last interview. Yet things have not changed their 
outward hue so far, and possibly the same small game may be 
carried on until people lose sight of their first objects. 

We all dined at the Governor's* yesterday. It did seem to me 
odd to hear so many Secessionists giving vent to their impreca- 
tions on Black Republicans, etc.; for the children joined in with 
as much glee as the parents. I have had a very severe cough; 
it came on just as the seizure I had on the road from Virginia, 
but I am a great deal better and hope to see you at the Depot, 
* * * Your Brother. 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

St. Michael's Alley, 15 March, 1861. 
Dear Sue: 

I'm much inclined to think the figure in the chair is entitled 
to the preference, but the stick is too long and the posture strad- 
dling, so I leave the choice to you. Let me have two dozen. 

*R. F. W. Allston. 

374 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

Aunt Jane is here, Aunt Mary too at Ann's. James with a very 
bad throat in Broad Street; he looks very badly. 

Your Parent. 

to mrs. jane petigru north 

St. Michael's Alley, 7th March, 1861. 
There seems to be increased excitement as next Monday ap- 
proaches. Johnston, who was dispatched on Tuesday to James 
Island, returned last night under orders to assume command of 
the brigade in the absence of General Dunnovant, and from his 
talk I infer that he thinks an assault upon Fort Sumpter is at 
hand. In that case we may as well be prepared to hear that his 
sun is set. He is just in the vein to "seek the bubble reputa- 
tion," where he is more apt to find his grave than ever to tell 
the story. And yet the fact that the resolutions of the peace 
conference have received the sanction of the Senate and House 
would lead one naturally to suppose that a collision was not 
necessary. But there are a great many tellows outside the 
fighting men that would feel less concern for the lives of thou- 
sands than for a scratch that would touch their offended vanity, 
if the South did not possess themselves of the fort by force. 


Broad Street, March 23, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

* * * We seem no nearer the solution of the Fort Sumter 
entanglement than we were a month ago. Still the same pro- 
fessions and the same delays. It looks very bad and seems to 
show that Mr. Lincoln has no fixed plan. 

On the 21st of March President Lincoln sent his friends, 
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut and Ward Lamon, lawyers of 
Springfield, Illinois, to South Carolina where a strong Union 
party was supposed to exist, to ascertain the facts. 

The following Sunday, the 24th of March, about 9 p. m., Mr. 
Petigru and his grandson were reading in the dining room, when 
there was a sharp ring at the door bell. The boy announced 
"two gentlemen, Mr. Hubble and Mr. Lemons, want to see 
Mr. Petigru." Repeating the names with a puzzled look he 
waved his hand for his grandson to retire. 

The gentlemen remained about an hour. On their departure 
he joined Mrs. Carson in the parlor and told her that they had 
been sent by Lincoln to ascertain the condition of the country. 

'James Louis Petigru ?>1S 

He then laughed and said, "Who would have thought that of all 
men Stephen Augustus would ever become an ambassador?" 

The following day at one o'clock Mr. Hurlbut saw Mr. Peti- 
gru; and in a report dated 27th of March, said: 

* * * Our conversation was entirely free and confidential. 
He is now the only man in Charleston who avowedly adheres 
to the Union. * * * From these sources I have no hesita- 
tion in reporting as unquestionable that separate nationality is 
fixed; that there is a unanimity of sentiment which to my mind 
is astonishing, and that there is no attachment to the Union. 

* * * There is no sentiment to appeal to. The sentiment 
of national patriotism, always feeble in Carolina, has been 
extinguished and overridden by the acknowledged doctrine of 
paramount allegiance to the State.* 

As has been mentioned before, Hurlbut was the son of Peti- 
gru's friend at Beaufort. He had been a student and managing 
clerk of the office, and in 1845, from some unedifying frolic, had 
left the town. He settled in Springfield, where he became a 
friend of Lincoln. He was an able lawyer, a prominent poli- 
tician, and a Major General during the Civil War. He was a 
man of most genial and engaging personality. 

""Abraham Lincoln." A History by JohnG.Nicolay and John Hay,vol.3, p. 391. 

376 ^(/<?j Letters and Speeches 


April-June, 1861 

Fort Sumter; Huguenot Records; Sadness at the Taking 
OF Fort Sumter; Lincoln's Policy; Dinner to Dh. W. H. 
Russell; Reverdy Johnson; Mrs. Carson Returns to 
New York; Inhabitants of Summerville Shy of Him; 
Rhett, Junior, Publishes Him as a Monarchist; Card 
from J. J. Pettigrew 


St. Michael's Alley, 8 April, 1861. 
My dear Johnston: 

I am going to Sumter on the 11th to put an end if I can to the 
delays of McR. v. Singleton. I wish you had come up last 
Sunday, you would have met Gen. Beauregard; he speaks very 
handsomely of you. My friend D. Huger has returned from 
Montgomery and from what he tells me, as the talk there, I 
infer, though he does not, that Jeff Davis expects to capture the 
city of Washington this spring. I don't think he can do it, but 
I think Major Anderson will be compelled by stress of circum- 
stances to come to terms very soon, and that Lincoln means to 
make him a scapegoat, which in my opinion, is a low, not to say, 
a base policy. 

Yours earnestly, 


Charleston, 11 April, 1861. 
Dear Sir: 

Your valuable and much valued letter of 15th January was 
duly received, and the box of books and manuscripts, tho' 
delayed much beyond our expectations, came to hand at length 
in good order. I can not but praise the pains and care you have 
taken to render the manuscripts, as well as the volumes that 
have suffered from age, legible and capable of preservation. 
You have fulfilled all that you engaged to do not only literally 
but liberally. I might even find fault with you as overscrupu- 
lous in the performance of your part of the agreement by 
including "Cook's Voyages," an English work, in your remit- 
tance, which surely you might have considered as forming no 
part of our purchase. 

James Louis Petigru 
April, 1861 

(.Facing 376) 

'James Louis Petigru Zll 

We have fitted up a small press for the safekeeping of your 
collection, and until the Historical Society comes into possession 
of its apartments in the new Court House, the books and manu- 
scripts will remain in the office of Petigru & King in St. Michael's 
Alley, where they are sometimes visited with pious curiosity by 
the descendants of the Huguenot Exiles. 

For your memoir of the brothers Gibert I am particularly 
obliged. I propose to publish it, and only regret that instead 
of its passing through the press under your supervision I will 
have to send it to New York to be printed. 

The 25 copies of your "History of the Churches of Pons, 
Gemosac, and Montagne" are disposed of at 75 cents per copy. 
The enclosed Bill of Exchange drawn by the Bank of Charleston 
on Messrs. Quesnel Freres & Co. Havre, and payable in Paris for 
300 francs, you will please accept in payment of those copies, 
and in recompense for your care and study in the preparation of 
the work so worthily commemorative of my venerated ancestor.* 

Your "Protestant Chronicle" is a valuable appendage to the 
collection, and is received as a personal donation. 

Should you by chance obtain any additional notices of the 
life and character of him [Gibert] or his brother, you will always 
render a most acceptable service by communicating such infor- 
mation to me. 

It would lay me under new obligations to your kindness if you 
would interest yourself in making some inquiries after the family 
of Pierre Boutiton, Pasteur, who was in the emigration of 1764. 
He died early. His brothers also followed him to the grave 
after a few years, leaving one daughter who never married, and 
died at a great age last year. 

I have no encouragement from the Mazycks or Manigaults 
for inquiries into their family history but my communications 
have not extended to all of them. I may say the same of the 
Peurysburg people. Some of them have grown rich, but they 
are little interested in any studies but how to make money. 
One of the Winklers, however, is a Baptist preacher; and the 
family of the Waldburgers are well educated people and perhaps 
chance may throw in my way the opportunity to make them 
acquainted with your suggestion. 

Our country is beset with trouble. The spirit of discontent 
has triumphed over traditions of our honored ancestry and the 
bonds of unity between the northern and southern States have 
been rudely separated. The result of this disruption is very 
uncertain, and to a lover of freedom is very discouraging. Our 
postal communications are likely to suffer very soon. I gladly 
avail myself when these communications are still open, of the 

*Grandfather, Jean Louis Gibert. 

378 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

opportunity of assuring you of the sentiments of esteem and 
regard with which I am, dear sir, 

Your friend and ally, 
M. A. Crottet, 

Canton de Vaud, 

15th April. 
The event which I thought was still at some distance when I 
was writing the foregoing is actually come, and the mail is 
stopped. Address your reply under cover to Messrs. De Launey 
Clarke & Co., New York. 

Let the envelope contain nothing but the address of these 

J. L. P. 


St. Michael's Alley, April 16, 1861. 

That which was threatening a long time has come and the 
sword is drawn. It is an odd feeling to be in the midst of joy 
and gratulations that one does not feel. On the contrary it is a 
feeling of deep sadness that settles on my mind. The universal 
applause that waits on secessionists and secession has not the 
slightest tendency to shake my conviction that we are on the 
road to ruin. Nor could I entertain a doubt that the fiat of 
history will consign the actors in these scenes to the same lot 
with them who have ruined their country. Is it you, Carey, or 
Mary Blount who is so keen a secessionist? 

Lincoln's proclamation surprised me. It seems to me that 
policy would dictate a different course, and that the course which 
he has now taken ought to have been adopted earlier, if at all. 

I felt for poor Anderson, deeply abandoned as he was to an 
obscure fate, to serve as a sort of stepping stone to a conflict in 
which he could reap no honor and left without a friend to stand 
by him and his few followers while the fleet looked upon his 
distress with careless eyes. The vessels are still here. What 
they stay here for nobody can tell. I thought it was a blockade, 
and vessels are, I know, unwilling to go out; yet it is announced 
that the port is open this morning. In fact I am at my wits' 
end. I never thought the administration were going to make 
an attempt or show of relieving Anderson, but supposed their 
fleet was intended for the Rio Grande, where there was a chance 
of effecting something and making an impression on the public 
mind. So, finding my calculations confuted, I now wait for 
events. I hope you will find the papers that I send you are not 
unwelcome. * * * 

Your Brother. 

James Louis Petigru 379 

About ten days after the fall of Fort Sumter, William H. 
Russell, of the London Times, afterwards known as "Bull Run" 
Russell, and "Doctor" William H. Russell, came to Charleston. 
He was accompanied by the ubiquitous Sam Ward as "bear 
leader," and Brockholst Cutting of New York. Mr. Russell 
brought letters of introduction to Mr. Petigru; the others were 
old friends. On the 25th of April a large dinner party was 
given in his honor, and this was the last social function ever 
given in the Broad street house, as it was burned the following 
December. Among the guests were Governor and Mrs. Pickens, 
General Beauregard, Wm. Porcher Miles, John Manning, and 
others, with of course Mr. Petigru's two daughters. 

Mr. Petigru no doubt spoke of his respect for English laws and 
justice, from which Mr. Russell inferred, as he wrote in his 
letters, that he was a monarchist. This can be understood from 
a note by Mrs. Carson about her father in which she says, "his 
veneration for British laws was so great that it was long before 
I learned that he had a respect more profound, and that was for 
the Constitution of the United States. " 

In taking leave Mr. Russell expressed surprise at finding a man 
of his attainments and views so different from his surroundings, 
to which Mr. Petigru laughingly replied, "When a similar 
remark was made to my friend Plutarch he said: 'I live in a 
small town and I choose to live there lest it should become still 


Charleston, April 16th, 1861. 
My dear Sir: 

I came in with the Constitution which went into operation 
only a few weeks before I saw the light, and I have ever devoutly 
believed that Union is our greatest interest. Unfortunately for 
me, my countrymen have in the course of the last 50 years, 
taken up the idea that it was a mistake and that cotton is our 
greatest interest. The universality of the cotton doctrine by 
which I am surrounded had no sort of influence over my way of 
thinking, and I have the misfortune of witnessing day by day 
manifestations of enthusiasm in which I have not the slightest 
participation. You may be sure then, of my ready and hearty 
concurrence in your able and lucid argument against the right 
of secession; for the Union would be but a very precarious 
possession, if it stood upon the mutable ground of the popular 

380 ^^/<?) Letters and Speeches 

opinion of expediency from day to day. In fact if it had been 
authoritatively proclaimed at the time of its adoption that it was 
only binding as long as it received the voluntary adhesion of the 
several States, it never would have been adopted at all, for 
people would have justly said that it was no improvement on the 
Confederacy. For the Confederacy would have answered all 
its purposes, if it could have been sure of the voluntary adherence 
of the several States to the duties that were submitted to their 
free arbitrament. There is no doubt that the men of 1787 did 
undertake a new thing in attempting to divide the civil power 
between the nation and the State, so as to leave each of them 
sovereign within their several spheres; but our secessionists 
pretend that they did not mean it. You have shown to demon- 
stration that this pretence of the secessionist is groundless. I 
hope that there is sufficient good sense in the Maryland people to 
discern the right and follow it, and I might well envy you for 
having such an audience to appeal to. What is to be the end of 
all this, seems to me inscrutable. But even if the Gulf States 
and South Carolina do flake off for ever, I will never cease to 
witness with joy whatever increases the prosperity and honor 
of the United States. 

Yours truly, 


Broad Street, 10 May, 1861. 
My dear Willie: 

* * * I wrote to you this spring, before your Mama 
returned, and gave you a world of good advice which I am not 
going to repeat. Indeed you have arrived at that time of life* 
when all ingenuous youth feel the weight of responsibility so 
strongly that their own thoughts are or ought to be their best 
monitors. There is a choice soon to be made by you between 
a profession and some other sort of business. For you will have 
to make bread for yourself, and you are now old enough to judge 
whether you are most fit for a profession and a studious life, or 
for an active employment as a business man. Your Mama has 
a great opinion of practical metallurgy as a branch of industry 
likely to occupy a large space in American enterprise. But I 
have not heard whether [you] have taken any steps in that 
direction. In fact I do not know what studies have occupied 
your attention for a long time. But I hope your time has been 
so employed that we shall not blush for you when we see you. 
The choice of a calling is just now beset with new difficulties, 
because we are divided by the keenest disputes between North 
and South. The Southern Confederacy has indeed proclaimed 

*Age eighteen. 

James Louis Petigru 381 

war, and the Northern States are not slow to take up the gage. 
We are in fact at war, and don't know when we will be at peace 
again. And those who are entering life are fairly entitled to 
cast their lot either North or South as they please. 

I was gratified with one of your last letters for the sentiment 
of independence which it breathed. But remember if you would 
share the spirit of independence you must share also its trials, 
which consist to a great degree in preferring a larger future good 
to a present inferior good: i. e. It is better to forego many 
pleasant hours of sleep, than to sleep away the time devoted to 
profitable study. 

Your Mama will probably spend the summer in some obscure 
spot in New England; Grandmother in Summerville; your aunts 
in town. Jim is already at the Porchers and will devote the 
present year to preparing for college. 

Your Grandmother [and] your Mama salute you, and so does 

Your Grandpapa. 

to m. a. crottet 

Charleston, 10 June, 1861. 
Dear Sir: 

No answer to the previous has yet reached me, and tho' this 
does not necessarily imply that it was the state of our Post 
Office, it would readily account for the failures of letters inten- 
ded for this place; yet if anything has happened to your answer 
or to my letter, the duplicate inclosed will not be out of place, 
nor the Bill of Exchange, being the first of the set, mentioned 

The Revolution in the United States proceeds so far with 
success, if indeed that which subverts a good government de- 
serves to be called success. Wishing you the blessings of peace, 
I am, dear sir, 

Your obliged friend and servant. 

This letter will be entrusted to a private hand to be forwarded 
from New York, or from France. 
M. A. Crottet, 

Canton de Vaud, 

About the middle of May, owing to the climate, the health of 
Mrs. Carson began to break down, and on account of her politi- 
cal views even among her best friends she found that the super- 
ficial malevolence of women is always in an inverse ratio to their 

382 J^iJ^-, Letters and Speeches 

integral excellence. The doctor advised that she go north, which, 
with his usual self-sacrifice, Mr. Petigru strenuously urged. The 
following is the passport furnished: 

Headquarters, Provisl. Army, 
Charleston, S. C, May 23, 1861. 
To all whom it may concern, greeting: 

Mrs. C. Carson, a lady of Charleston, So. Ca., is proceeding 
to New York City for the benefit of her health. The civil and 
military authorities of the Confederate and of the United States 
are invited to extend her such aid and protection as she may be 
entitled to. 

G. T. Beauregard, 
Brig. Gent. Comdg. 

In feeble condition she left Charleston, with some friends, on 
Monday, 3d of June, and going by way of Nashville, Louisville 
and Cincinnati she arrived in New York on the following Satur- 
day, in better condition than when she started. 


Summerville, June 18, 1861. 
My dear Jane: 

It is about the hour I suppose of your arrival at your own 
door, and I congratulate you on the end of your journey and the 
pleasant sights which meet you at home and the many glad faces 
that surround you. I wish I was with you with all my heart, 
for Summerville is a place that has few attractions. The inhab- 
itants are, for the most part, shy of me, and I don't know but I 
like them better than if they were more sociable. * * * 

19th — I came as expected. The only news not in the news- 
papers is that Johnston is going to Virginia as a private. He 
does not enroll, but is going to give his countenance to Conner's 


Summerville, June 20, 1861. 
* * * You will see that Rhett, junior, has published me 
as a monarchist. If it is true he ought not to have done it, but 
in fact he has no more reason to say so than this, that I am a 
Union man, and he would prefer monarchy, even under foreign 
rule, to the Union. Johnston's book creates a favorable impres- 
sion, and his defense of his kinsman is what might be expected of 
him. I am working hard on the Code. 

James Louis Petigru 383 

The above allusion to Rhett, junior, publishing him as a 
monarchist, has reference to an editorial that appeared in the 
Mercury on the 19th of June. The next day J. Johnston Petti- 
grew addressed the editor and inquired if this editorial referred 
to his relative James L. Petigru, and questioned the right of the 
journalist in bringing before the public the supposed private 
opinions of individuals. On the 21st of June Rhett replied, 
saying, "The passage alluding to Mr. Petigru expresses what I 
considered to be his opinion upon a political question of mon- 
archical rule and as widely known as himself. * * * It is 
due to my own self-respect and my esteem for Mr. Petigru to 
say that the relations of friendship and regard which have long 
existed between the distinguished gentleman and my entire 
family, exclude the supposition that I could have volunteered 
to diminish him in the respect of the public. The consciousness 
of offence or intention of it was certainly not present to my 

"R. B. Rhett, Jr." 

The contention is summarized in the following card: 

Friday, 21st of June, 1861. 
A Card 

The Mercury of the 19th contained some editorial remarks 
upon one of Mr. Russell's letters, in which he states that he met 
here a very general expression of opinion in favor of the intro- 
duction of monarchical institutions and "of one of the Royal 
race of England to rule over us," etc. 

Contesting this as a misconception, the writer, in the course 
of his remarks, makes the following reference: 

"Monarchists are to be found here, as elsewhere. We have met 
them at the North and in the Southwest. We know two in 
South Carolina — one a certain distinguished lawyer of Charles- 
ton, and one a planter of eccentric views. We remember no 
others, and these gentlemen have no political influence and no 
aspirations, being universally regarded as Ishmaelites, and 
together out of the latitude in politics." 

The impression was very generally entertained that this 
paragraph would be accepted as referring to my kinsman, Mr. 
James L. Petigru; and upon inquiring of the editors, I am 
informed that such was the case — the information being accom- 
panied, it is proper to say, with expressions of great respect and 
consideration. Taking the whole editorial together, it is impos- 
sible to deny that the impression produced must be that the 

384 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

opinion of the two gentlemen thus alluded to, affords only 
countenance to be found for Mr. Russell's statements in this 
particular; and, knowing that Mr. Petigru would not advert to 
the matter himself, it is not consistent with my feelings towards 
him to allow such a public reference to pass without comment. 

A claim on the part of any journalist to comment publicly 
on private opinions, particularly when the question is not at 
issue, is one that, in my view, concerns any individual. I can 
not admit a right on the part of an editor unnecessarily to drag 
before the public for censure, in any odious connection, or even 
for general remark, sentiments not publicly expressed. It seems 
to me a wrongful invasion on the privacy of individual opinion, 
too liable to become a source of oppression, to be conceded to 
the press. I do not think in justification that the sentiments 
objected to may really be so entertained. In the present instance, 
moreover, I believe besides that the statement in question is 
calculated to produce an entire misapprehension as to the 
gentleman referred to, and to do him gross injustice. 

For many years I have had abundant opportunity for know- 
ing his sentiments, and I was greatly surprised when I saw the 
editorial in the Mercury. I do not believe that he has ever 
entertained or expressed any opinion in favor of the introduction 
of monarchical institutions among us, or that would warrant 
such a reference to him in connection with the comments of Mr. 
Russell's letter. 

J. Johnston Pettigrew. 

To this Mr. Rhett, being bound to have the last word, says: 

Mercury Office, June 21, 1861. 
* * * Again, I have not stated nor indicated that Mr. 
Petigru ever advocated the introduction of a monarchy or a 
monarch. The political odium of a preference for the theory 
of monarchical institutions Mr. Petigru had created for himself. 
He had himself caused and encountered it. I had no intention 
to either create or to add to it. 

In the Mercury of Saturday, the 22d of June, appeared a 
notice that J. J. Pettigrew would leave that night for Virginia 
to join as a private, Conner's Company of the Hampton Legion. 


Summerville, 24 June, 1861. 
My dear Johnston: 

So you did not come on Sunday, and you did take the Mercury 
to task. I value the latter incident, as it proves that you under- 

J. Johnston- Pettigrew 

{Facing ^84) 

James Louis Petigru 385 

stood me; which is one of the tests of a kindred mind. So far 
from being a monarchist, I am for the very opposite — the semi- 
sovereignty of the U. S. and the quasi-sovereignty of the State. 
And Rhett, Jr., is fool enough to call me a monarchist because 
I am a Union man, and he prefers monarchy, even under British 
rule, to Union. 

I really felt no resentment, because I did not think he meant 
it as rudeness, and am perfectly sure that my attachment to 
popular government would outlast that of a whole brigade of 
Secessionists. Besides I am clear of ever having expressed a 
preference for monarchy over a republic, though, no doubt, I 
have said many things that would seem very paradoxical to 
people that take their ideas upon trust, as mere partizans always 

I might be offended at being put in the same category with a 
crazy man, but I really think my character can stand the impu- 
tation, even if Col. Hayne should back the Mercury in their 
classification. For I reckon that the public would hardly con- 
sent to being thought such asses as to support a man in a decent 
style and pay him for advice, who had no more judgement than 
a crazy Ishmaelite. 

Your book improves upon me, and I find it not only a good, 
but a readable book, tho' I think your Phoenecian and Celtic 
etymologies are somewhat tedious. I want to beg a copy for a 
friend, Mrs. Holbrook, unless you will take the hint and send 
it in your name. I'll be in Charleston on Thursday. Will you 
be gone before then, without seeing me? 


386 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 


July-October, 1861 

Johnston as a Private; Hurlbut a State Prisoner in 
Defiance of Magna Charta; Belief in General Scott; 
Wishes He Were on the Other Side of the Potomac; 
Fighting Will Dispose People to be More Civil to 
One Another; Comments on the Battle of Manassas; 
Afraid Defeat Would Have Cost General Scott His 
Life; The Code; The Well; Doings of the Clergy; 
Efforts on Behalf of Hurlbut 


Summerville, July 5th, 1861. 
My dear Daughter: 

After some days of anxiety your letter of 16th June came like 
a messenger of comfort to relieve our minds not only from fear 
but from doubt. It reached us on the afternoon of 26th June, 
and was devoured by Ma and self, as a welcome entertainment 
after a long fast, and the next day was forwarded to Aunt Jane, 
with a charge to send it on to James even at the expense of tak- 
ing a horse out of the plow. That you should meet kind friends 
and a cordial welcome, did not surprise me, but that you felt 
stronger when you arrived at Mr. Blatchford's than when you 
left Charleston was good news as unexpected as gratifying. 

* * * On Wednesday I was in town and saw Mr. Bunch 
[the British consul] who gave me Gen. Scott's passports and Mr. 
Schuyler's letter dated 4 June and only received by Mr. Bunch 
the 2d of July. Gen. Scott's letter of safe conduct is highly 
complimentary, all in his own hand, and countersigned by the 
Assistant Adjutant General. Nor is Mr. Schuyler's less flatter- 
ing as it contains the offer of meeting you on the lines if he could 
be appraised of the time to do so. By inverse of good luck 
your parting letter of the 21st June from New York, arrived at 
the same time by Adams Express. Gen. Scott's pass came in 
Mr. Bunch's bag from Lord Lyons. How it was so much 
retarded I don't know, but I suppose his lordship's correspon- 
dence with his subordinates is not as [frequent?] as theirs with 
him. * * * 

We moved on the 16th ult. I have Jack Middleton with me, 

James Louis Petigru 387 

and Trescot and Henry Young in Charleston. But the scheme 
which I have adopted requires the laws to be almost entirely 
written over, otherwise mere juxtaposition would go very little 
way to introduce that method which it is the object of a code to 
obtain. This makes slow work, and reduces the value of Tres- 
cot and Young's collaboration to a trifle comparatively. I am 
afraid I shall have to abridge my trip to Badwell or postpone it 

I paid to Henry Young on Wednesday 150 Dollars for James,* 
and 100 for himself, for their services the last quarter. But 
James gets no more. He is in Virginia, Lieut, of Conner's 
Company which Johnston has joined as a private. He is not 
under an engagement to serve during the war and may quit 
when he pleases, but certain it is that he is now doing service in 
the ranks. Johnston has something of the Roman and this 
step is more in accordance with antiquity than modern times. 
He went off a week ago. Poor Hurlbut the renegade has got into 
big trouble. He came here to see his sister and be quiet. The 
Charleston people were thrown into a panic. They do him more 
honor perhaps than he deserves. They would not believe him 
to be a renegade: and were going to mob him. He fled, was 
caught and carried to Richmond where he is in durance vile, in 
defiance of Magna Charta, a sort of State's prisoner accused of 
nothing, but having a bad name, which unfortunately he has 
put it out of the power of his friends to deny, and suspected 
against all reason of being a spy, whom nobody will trust. 

Congress met yesterday. In Charleston the day was partially 
kept; here it passed unheeded. The bells in town were rung and 

I have no news to tell you for there is nothing done. There 
has been a brush at a place in Virginia called Bethel where the 
U. S. men suffered more disgrace than actual loss. And it seems 
to me that Jeff Davis has the smartest men about him. But for 
General Scott I would not be surprised at anything. 


St. Michael's Alley, 17 July, 1861. 
My dear Caroline: 

* * * Every day has been filled with rumors of great 
things being done of which as Milton says "all Hell had rung," 
But except some skirmishing nothing has transpired to enable 
me to see when they are going to fight, or who is going to be 
whipped. Johnston has come in from Richmond with a com- 
mission of Col. of a North Carolina Regiment. He came last 
night and is going back this afternoon. His object in going to 

*James Lowndes and Henry Young had assisted Petigru with the "Code." 

388 ^^/<?j Letters and Speeches 

Richmond was to join Conner's Company as a private. But it 
seems that his fame had gone before him and a North CaroHna 
Regiment elected him without ever having seen him. I asked 
him if he knew anything more than everybody knew; he said 
nothing more except that Virginia was more pushed than people 
supposed; that the federalists were strongest at every point. 
However he seemed to have no doubt that the contest was in 
favor of the South on account of the superiority of their metal 

Our friend Ben is a Major in Jeff Davis' Army, and is some- 
where about Winchester, which is in the neighborhood of danger. 
And last Friday the Governor himself set off for Virginia to 
tender his services. 

William Ross* is cruising in the Jeff Davis privateer as Lieu- 
tenant and I expect every day to hear that he is captured with 
his usual luck. The crew of the Savannah privateer are in New 
York, and will be tried for piracy; they will very probably be 
convicted and then a very interesting question it will be, — 
whether they are to be hanged or not, and great things will 
depend on it. I am convinced that a reconstruction of the Union 
is impossible, and really wish that I were on the other side of the 
Potomac. But as it is I see nothing to hope from the present 
contest, but the probability that fighting will remedy somewhat 
the vulgar prejudices that are so rife on both sides, and dispose 
people to be civil to one another. I was in hope that we might 
part without effusion of blood; but am satisfied now that such 
a separation would be more disastrous than a war. * * * 

I am proceeding slowly with the code, and don't think I'll 
get off to Abbeville for near a month. Adieu. 

Your Parent. 

William Henry Hurlbut, the brilliant journalist, on account 
of his zigzag course in New York finally found himself tabooed 
and laughed at even by the Bohemians. At the opening of the 
war upon the invitation, as he said, of his friend Judah P. 
Benjamin, who became Secretary of State of the Confederate 
States, he came South to write up the Southern cause. Some 
years previous to this he had written certain strong anti-slavery 
articles in the Edinburgh Review. He arrived in Richmond on 
the 19th of June. The Southern papers quoted the anti-slavery 
articles, and violently assailed his record and moral character, 
and asserted that he was a spy. On his way to Montgomery, 
no definite charge having been made, he was arrested by the 

*William Ross Postelle, his brother-in-law. 

James Louis Petigru 389 

civil authorities of Atlanta on the 24th of June, and transferred 
to the military prison at Richmond. 


Charleston, 24 July, 1861. 
My dear Sue: 

* * * I wrote to Col. Morton, Gov. Letcher's Aid, last 
Wednesday, and requested him to let Mr. Letcher know what I 
said and that I was responsible for the statement, and put as 
strongly as I could the impropriety of keeping Hurlbut in jail, 
if they ever meant that he should go out alive. I am out of 
patience with the sneaking privilege of keeping a man in prison, 
merely because they can do so with impunity in spite of his right. 
The victories that are gained over humanity are not as creditable 
as our victory at Manassas, tho' they give less trouble. But I 
don't know what to say of our friend George W. Williams, whose 
mind was so impressed with the fear of offending, as to go to 
Legate Yates and tell him he had remitted money to New York 
to pay a Spaniard, who held his bills payable at that place, and 
when Oracle Yates made a fuss, made interest at the Post Office 
to return him his bill, and let the Spaniard bewail his case as a 
man destined to bear the misfortune of trusting a person, who 
can not distinguish between what a man may do and what he 
ought to do. Hurlbut wrote to me once. Perhaps I would be 
borne out by the circumstances, if I said he had not, for it is only 
part of his letter that I could quite understand; other parts I 
guessed at and the rest was in an unknown character — might 
as well have been in an unknown tongue. I hope and trust you 
are not going to write to Toombs or anybody about this business. 
Whether it could do him any good is more than doubtful; that 
it would do you harm is certain, and it would certainly disentitle 
my instances, in his behalf, to any weight. You can not but be 
aware, my dear Sue, that Hurlbut's friendship is no recommen- 
dation; as the Count says in "Werner," "Men speak lightly of 
him." When a man like him has lost character, it must be 
presumed against him, for he has wit enough to take care to 
make himself understood. In a word, a deserter can not be 
respected, tho' he, as well as all men, is entitled to justice. The 
South Carolinians, Georgians and Virginians have done him 
wrong. In addition to the common sense of indignation against 
wrong, I have a motive for acting in his behalf on account of his 
father, who was my friend. Otherwise, my dear child, I should 
think it no great matter if a deserter found himself deserted. 
* * * Adieu. 

Your Parent. 

390 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 


July 31, 1861. 

The advantage gained by the Confederates on the 21st really 
seems to be a victory. It proves that as natural fighters we 
really do beat the Yankees. It ought not, perhaps, to be won- 
dered at. The ferocity of our people has been whetted by the 
practice of gouging first at the Colonial Government and of using 
the Bowie knife at later times. It will be lucky for us if the 
Yankees may take our word that they can't stand a hand with 
us in fighting and come to terms, with the understanding that we 
are the best men. We are all convinced of the superiority of 
our mettle and those who are thoroughly imbued with Southern 
ideas are especially clear that we have all the money; at least, 
that we have more than anybody else. So that if the Yankees 
are sharp they will soon give up the contest- when they find that 
we are so much better provided with the sinews of war. 

Ma lost her horse, the ocular horse, that is the one that could 
see. He died on Monday, and it is a great loss. Allston has 
been gone to the wars for a fortnight. He made his way to 
Manassas and met Ben on the road. The train on which Ben 
was had broken down, which prevented him from joining in the 
action. The Governor is staying to nurse the wounded that 
were in the action. Charlie Axson was killed yesterday on the 
road in a brawl by a Georgia soldier. Hampton's Legion, which 
has gained so much honor, has a dark page also in its chronicle, 
as two companies are in jail for mutinous conduct; which pre- 
vented them from sharing in the fight. * * * 


Badwell, 22 August, 1861. 
My dear Cary: 

* * * Aunt Mary and Louise are great patriots while 
Aunt Jane reconciles herself to her destiny; works for the 
Southern Volunteers in the Virginia hospitals and would willingly 
do as much for those whom she has hardly learned yet to call 
"our enemies." 

I really was afraid that the defeat of the U. S. at Manassas 
would have cost Gen. Scott his life. But he has more vitality 
in him and gives no sign of despair. It is to be seen what sort 
of man he has for his views, in McLellan. But it is very plain 
that hitherto the Southerners have had the preponderance in 
military skill as well as hard fighting. But whether it portends 
peace or a long war is very questionable. The Yankees are not 
as full of indignation as our people; but whether their wrath will 
cool sooner than ours is a different thing. Some few papers at 
the North speak in favor of peace, but the prevailing idea 

James Louis Petigru 391 

evidently is to avenge the national honor. And how long the 
passions of men will continue to add fuel to the flame is as little 
understood as any points in the distant future. You have no 
doubt seen an account of the battles and will easily forgive me 
for passing the narratives. Indeed I could do no better if I 
tried; for never have I been able to understand why the Yankees 
behaved so ill that day. They disgraced themselves beyond 
measure; their flight must be a deep mortification to all their 

It is surprising how well the Southern men work together, as 
it is known that there is great spite and bickering among them. 
For instance, Davis has a fight against our friend Ripley, and 
neglected him, and evaded the earnest call for his promotion 
raised by South Carolina. He at last, but with a bad grace, has 
given in and Rip is now a General. Complaints are also made 
that Gen. Beauregard has not had justice done him. Of this I 
can not judge, but Beauregard, unless I am mistaken, is of the 
same opinion. In the meantime Congress sits at Richmond and 
does as it pleases, whether in public or private without anything 
for authority except the undisputed will of the people. The 
members were not elected by the people nor authorized to inaug- 
urate a Legislative Government; yet they have done so to the 
perfect satisfaction of the same people that are abusing Lincoln 
for a stretch of his authority. But in fact law is a drug now — 
and heaven knows how long it will continue. 

James intended to send his letter with mine, but it was not 
ready last Saturday, and so I'll send this off to Mr. Sass, hoping 
he will find some means to convey it to the hands of Mr. Detmold 
who will be able, I hope, to put it in a way of reaching you, for 
I don't know whether I ought to address you at Dresden or 

I shall not remain more than a fortnight more here. The 
reduction of the Statute Laws of the State claims my attention 
peremptorily. Jack Middleton, Trescot and Henry Young are 
retained, but I find it very difficult to transfer the discretionary 
[powers] or rather they can not be transferred. This prevents me 
from making as much out of their talents as I would desire to do. 
Johnston is gone with his North Carolina Regiment. It is 
rumored that he is to join Wise's army in western Virginia. I 
am sorry for it. There is in my mind a discrepancy between the 
functions of a General and the part of an orator like Wise who 
speaks from Monday morning till Saturday night. But I have 
not had a line from Johnston since he left Charleston. The love 
we all bear you here is undiminished and so they bid me tell you, 
making regard to the kind and charming young lady who bears 
you company. You will gratify me if you will tell Willie that 
I am somewhat surprised that he has not written to his Grand- 
mother nor to me. I have the more reason to regret, because I 

392 Life, Letters and Speeches 

was struck with the improvement in the letters which you 
showed me; and have no doubt that his correspondence would 
have been interesting and agreeable. 

Receive dear child, the affectionate vows of your 


to mrs, caroline petigru carson 

Badwell, 5 September, 1861. 
My dear Child: 

* * * You will naturally look for news in a letter from 
America. But we are here out of the way of newspapers, and 
get all our news at second hand. It is announced that Adams 
express no longer takes letters for the North; and as the port is 
strictly blockaded no communication can be had with the out- 
side world but at the risk of running the blockade, which a few 
succeed in doing. It is highly probable that when you receive 
this you will know a great deal more about American news than 
I do. The great actions have been to the advantage of the 
Confederates; but the U. S. troops are in possession of the North 
Carolina forts near Hatteras which have been captured. To 
my vision the horizon is as dark as ever. The press on both 
sides makes every exertion to cheat the partizans with signs of 
fair weather, and there is no depending on anything you read 
unless it comes officially. Then we have only the allowable 
misrepresentations of exaggeration and suppression to appre- 
hend. The chance of having letters forwarded is so precarious, 
that I am far from sure that this will ever reach you. If it does 
it will only be valuable as a reward of the little interest I have in 
public affairs, and my great interest I have in you and Willie. 
Make me remembered to him and receive, dearest Caroline, my 
heartfelt vows for your well being of 

Your Father. 

to mrs. susan petigru king 

Summerville, 30 September, 1861. 
My dear Sue: 

I have received both your letters; as to the last, I feel great 
concern about Hurlbut. If I had any confidence in the effect of 
a personal application, I would go to Richmond to get intro- 
duced to Gov. Letcher, but my known proclivities to the Union 
forbid the supposition of accomplishing anything by that course. 
I have in my mind a measure, which if I succeed in, may result 
in obtaining his liberation through the agency of another person. 
I am sorry that Mr. Mason is absent and that I could not see him 
in Charleston, for I would certainly laboured with him to inter- 
fere. Hurlbut's case is a very hard one, but it must be con- 

James Louis Petigru 393 

fessed that all the stories he tells about his coming to Charleston 
are very strange. Even to secessionists it must appear strange, 
that a man attached to the Union should join them just at the 
time when they had put themselves clearly in the wrong, and 
that he should come to Charleston of all the places in the world, 
where his former principles had gained him a painful notoriety, 
and nothing was known of his recent change. If the unhappy 
fellow had stood his ground, we might have done much to abate 
public animosity, and it is not likely that our mob would have 
asked anything more than his expulsion from the Confederacy, 
which, now, would be the height of his wishes. But I repeat, I 
will make a strong effort soon in his behalf, — as soon as I am 
able. His unpopularity is so vast, that circumspection is neces- 
sary, not on my own account but on his, in every attempt to 
mollify his keepers. It is a horrible instance of the horrors of 
civil war; a state of things, which the clergy have done their 
best to bring about, with the approving smiles of the gentle sex. 
* * * I am, dear Sue, your affectionate, tho' oftentimes 


to mrs. jane petigru north 

Summerville, October 1st, 1861. 

No doubt the boys are very proud of the service as your body 
guard at Cherry Hill. I hope they may never engage in any 
service that is not equally meritorious. I suppose the flag for 
the Willington Guards is ready. But why don't we hear of Mr. 
Burt's speech? 

Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell are in Charleston. They are not 
on their way to Tampico, as the papers pretend, but are going 
to fight their way on to the steamer Nashville, which is much 
faster than any blockading squadron, and can go in by the 
Maffetts Channel, which is too shallow for the blockade ships. 

^ ^ ^ 

Embrace the boys in my name and Louise. Sister sends love 
and protestations, which is no more than that felt by 

Your Brother. 

I am back in town. Back is better. I have seen Messrs 
Mason and Slidell, and Henry read me a letter from Johnston, 
who is at Dumfries, and his regiment comparatively healthy; 
Ben is to join him. He censures the commissariat. Thinks the 
general staff careless of the health of the men, but consoles him- 
self that our army is in better condition than the English, who 
have sometimes gained victories, but refers it to the pluck of the 
men. Adieu. 

394 J^ije^ Letters and Speeches 


Charleston, 7 October, 1861. 
My dear Sue: 

It is really a treat to hear good news, and Mr. Lyon's entrance 
on the stage is good news for Hurlbut as well as for you and me, 
for I think Hurlbut's incarceration was becoming every day more 
oppressive to him and his friends. I believe he is more indebted 
to you than to me, for you put the Governor [Pickens] upon his 
mettle, and he wrote a very significant letter to the Virginian, 
which in all probability was the cause of his remitting the case 
to Mr. Lyons. With Mr. Lyons my intercourse is compara- 
tively slight, but I had written to him before I received your 
letter and I would not recall it. If it comes where it is not 
needed, it will at least not render him less satisfied with what he 
has done. I hope the next time our friend changes his coat, he 
will step out of it more easily; or, what is better, I hope he will 
never give his enemies such an opportunity of trampling on him 
as Brown and Toombs have enjoyed. The letter was evidently a 
contrivance, and I don't wonder that Cobb has never written to 
me. If he could be taken in by such a bald trick, he might be 
ashamed of himself. I'll present you duly to Ma and think of 
you as well as I can. 

Your Parent. 

When Hurlbut was released on parole, one afternoon he hired 
a buggy and promptly fled across the Potomac. He returned to 
New York, where he resumed his occupation as a journalist, and 
eventually became editor of the New York World. 

On the 9th of August, 1884, while in England, he married Miss 
Tracy, of New York. He took to going to church and became a 
well conducted citizen, but a lady of New York, describing him 
as a married man, said that he reminded her of tame venison. 
He died in Rome, in 1894. He was no doubt a genius — brilliant, 
witty, genial, and capable of great kindness, but to the end of his 
days there probably never existed a man with a greater pro- 
clivity for getting himself wound up in mysterious entanglements. 

James Louis Petigru 395 


October, 1861 

Mr. Petigru's Argument Against Sequestration Act 

On October 7, 1861, the first term of the Confederate court for 
the trial of criminal cases was held and Mr. Petigru read a writ 
of Garnishment served upon him, and the interrogatories 
attached in reference to alien enemies' property. His objection 
to these interrogatories was, he stated, that no human authority 
had the right to put these questions to him or any one in the same 
circumstances. He might recognize the authority of the State 
of South Carolina to do as proposed by that Act, because in a 
State like South Carolina a sufferer has no security or remedy 
against those in power, unless from some guarantee in the Con- 
stitution of the State. For a State may do whatever it is not 
forbidden to do by the fundamental law of the State. But the 
Confederate States have no such claim to generality. Their 
authority is confined to the constitution which confers it and the 
powers delegated to them. And whereas, in the case of a sover- 
eign we must show a guarantee against the power; in the case of 
the Confederacy they must show a warrant for their warrant. 

There is no article in the Constitution of the Confederate 
States which authorizes them to set up an inquisition, or to pro- 
ceed otherwise than according to the law of the land. In fact 
the best authority for this proceeding is Hudson's treatise on the 
Star Chamber, in Second Collectanea Juridica. It will be found 
that the method prescribed in this Confiscation Act is precisely 
that of the Star Chamber. They call this a writ of Garnishment. 
Mr. Hudson calls it a subpoena. This calls upon me to disclose 
all the cases, in my knowledge, of property held by an alien 

Mr. Hudson's writ requires the party to appear before the 
Star Chamber, and answer all questions that shall be put to him. 
These are alike in being general. There is no plaintiff. It is a 
general inquisition. So when the writ is returned, Mr. 
Attorney's writ propounds certain questions to be answered, 

396 Lije^ Letters and Speeches 

and requires the party to answer every other question that may 
be asked. So it was in the Star Chamber. Certain interroga- 
tories were put and then a personal examination was had, con- 
sisting sometimes of from fifty to two hundred questions. This 
is a writ unknown to the common law. How does the Confed- 
erate States get the right to issue the writ? It is not only not 
known to the common law, but it is condemned by common right, 
and connected with the most odious usurpation of power and 
tyranny. If this proceeding is sustained, Mr. Hudson's will 
become a valuable book of practice. If no such power has been 
granted, how can such a thing be legal? The Confederate 
Government can appeal to no warrant for this proceeding except 
the war-making power. It will be said that the power of making 
war is granted; and that confiscation is the incident; and that the 
right of the principle is the incident. That may be admitted. 
What is incident to cases of the war power the grant of the war 
power covers. But does the war power require the creation of a 
Star Chamber, to worry and harass our people? These inter- 
rogatories are not for the enemies of the country, but for friends 
and citizens of the country; those who have the right to stand 
upon the Magna Charta, upon the Constitution of the State; 
those who have never done anything to forfeit their right. 
Where is the authority given? Where is the power to call upon 
the citizen in a new and unheard of manner, to answer questions 
upon oath for the purpose of forcing the confiscation law? Shall 
it be said that it is to furnish means for carrying on the war? 
How can that be said to be, what is absolutely never known to 
have been done before? Was there never anybody that fought 
before Gen. Beauregard? War, unfortunately, is not a new 
thing. Its history is found on every page. Was there ever a 
war measure like this, endured, practiced, or heard of? It cer- 
tainly is not found among the people from whom we derive the 
common law. No English monarch or Parliament has ever 
sanctioned or undertaken such a thing. It is utterly inconsis- 
tent with the common law to require an inquisitorial examin- 
ation of the subjects of the realm to support the laws of war. It 
is no more a part of the law of war than it is a part of the law of 

The war-making power does not include the power of compel- 
ling innocent people to answer interrogatories in promotion of 

James Louis Petigru 397 

confiscation. That the power is exercised for a good and laud- 
able purpose is no answer. Good ends must be attained by 
lawful means. All that can be said in favor of the end and 
object proposed, can be said in favor of the Star Chamber, and 
the Spanish Inquisition. 

Torquemada set on the latter institution from the best of 
motives. It was to save men's souls. He labored most 
earnestly in season and out of season, and when high necessity 
commanded, he burnt their bodies to save their souls. He 
burnt the bodies of Jews and Protestants. 

We do not consider that the end justifies the means in these 
days, but Torquemada might have burnt Jews and Protestants 
without calling upon their best friends to inform against them, 
and making it penal not to do so. He referred and derived his 
construction from the Sacred Word and it is not to be denied 
that he was justified in referring to the Sacred Word, so far as he 
proved that true faith is essential to salvation, and starting from 
these premises, he could argue with great effect that any means 
were lawful which would tend to an end so good. It is often 
pretended that the war power includes the power of interrogat- 
ing every man in the community in aid of confiscation. 

The war power includes as an incident everything that is 
necessary or usual. It can not be pretended that this is neces- 
sary or usual, since it never was done before. This is not the 
first war that ever was waged, and the laws of war are not the 
subject of wild speculation. Now the means granted to obtain 
this end are based upon the supposition that the end deserves all 
commendation, that nothing in the world is more calculated to 
advance the repute of the country, than to be keen in searching 
out the property of enemies and proceeding against them when 
they have no opportunity of being heard, and to impoverish 
them by taking away the earnings of their industry and apply- 
ing it to other uses. Grant that it is desirable, is it to be attained 
by unlawful means? Let the confiscation law proceed with full 
vigor, but why call upon me to give an opinion concerning con- 
fiscating property, any more than anv other crime that I know 

It would be the most intolerable hardship for me — for a citizen 
— at every quarter session to be obliged to tell all he knows or 
suspects against his neighbor. It is pretended that this is an 

398 ^i/<?) Letters and Speeches 

innocent proceeding. How can it be innocent which calls upon 
one to commit a breach of trust? To break faith with a friend 
is not only disreputable in a trustee, but base. How can that be 
considered innocent, which compels a man to do what will make 
him despised by all honorable men ? But if the case of a trustee 
calls for relief, how much more the case of an attorney or person 
charged with professional confidence. 

The law protects every man in keeping silence when the 
question is asked that involves professional confidence. There 
can be no greater oppression than to compel a person to violate 
a moral or legal duty. Something should be said about the 
objects of this law, for there is a very common error in suppos- 
ing that it applies to the estates of natives who are living abroad 
in an enemy's country. The term alien enemy is the only one 
used in the Act. It is a definite technical construction. An 
alien enemy must be born out of the allegiance of the sovereign. 
There can be no dispute about it. He is not an alien if he was 
born within the domains of the sovereign. A sovereign has a 
right to require a return. He may call on him to come home. 
What it is in the sovereign's power to do and what he may law- 
fully do with his subject when he refuses to return is another 
matter. But until he has been called on by his sovereign to 
return, a man commits no breach of duty living in an enemy's 
country according to law. It is impossible that the masters of 
the law should not have been aware of this, and they seem to 
have purposely left this open for the interposition of humanity. 
Mr. Petigru denied that there was any precedent for this law; 
a freeman could not be compelled to aid in this confiscating law 
by informing against both his friends and enemies. It was this 
which caused those brave men to shake the pillar of monarchy 
to its base and abolish the Star Chamber, but to do it with the 
declaration that no such thing should ever be tolerated again. 
Are we going in the heyday of our youth to set an example which 
has been repudiated by every lover and friend of freedom from 
the beginning of time to this day, which has neV^er found an 
advocate, shocks the conscience and invades the rights of the 
private citizen? Mr. Petigru dwelt for some time on the hard- 
ship and injustice of compelling a trustee to betray his trusts, 
to turn State's evidence against his bosom friends. Is it necessary 
not only that the act of cruelty should be done, but that a friend 

James Louis Petigru 399 

to the parties should be made to take a part in the sacrificial 
act? He admitted the common law does not spare the trustee, 
that he is bound to give evidence in court to show what property 
he has in trust, if it is claimed by one who claims or asserts a 
better title to it. But this calls upon every attorney to betray 
his client and make an exposure of that which tends to ruin the 
man who has placed entire confidence in his attorney. It is an 
extraordinary stretch of power in an extraordinary time, when 
we are endeavoring to make good before the world our right to 
its respect as an enlightened people; a people capable of self- 
government, and of governing themselves in a manner worthy 
of the civilization and of the light of the age, and this Act, 
borrowed from the darkest periods of tyranny, is dug up from the 
very quarters of despotism and put forward as our sentiments. 
They were not his sentiments, and sorry would he be, if in this 
sentiment, he was solitary and alone. 

Mr. Petigru contended that no definition had been given of 
the alien. It is obvious that in this respect the law is lame and 
does not, even if aided by all the terrors of the inquisition, affect 
those who are natives. He could not account for this, except 
upon the supposition that those who drew the law did not wish 
it to operate farther than as a brntum fulmen and left a loop-hole 
for escape. It is a wide door — a back door, but it is a wide 
entrance into the halls of justice. 

So far as he was personally concerned with this writ, he could 
answer every one of the questions in the negative. With regard 
to that which requires the violation of personal confidence he 
must be better instructed, before making up his mind to the 
order of confiscating or not. There are cases when it is dishonor 
or death, and death will certainly be chosen by every man who 
deserves the name. 

Mr. Miles, the District Attorney, moved that Mr. Petigru make 
a return to the Court of Garnishment in which the questions 
stated by him should be raised. He called the attention of the 
audience, for whose benefit the remarks of the respondent seemed 
to have been made, to the singular position which the eminent 
repondent today for the first time occupied. 

That it was not strange that one who had so often distin- 
guished himself by the undaunted boldness with which he threw 
himself in opposition to the weight of public opinion, should be 

400 J^i-J^^ Letters and Speeches 

the one who now invoked the aid of the Court to protect those 
whom the law of Congress designates as alien enemies, but 
whom he still prides himself in calling his "fellow-citizens," 
from the tyranny of a government which attempts to make their 
property subject to the rules of war. This was consistent with 
his past position. But it was certainly a remarkable metamor- 
phosis, that the eminent jurist who had stood fearlessly and 
almost alone in his opposition to the political sentiments of the 
State, should now invoke the strictest and sternest construction 
of States' Rights that had ever been contended for even in South 
Carolina, in opposition to the power of the Confederate Govern- 
ment to pass a law in relation to a subject-matter expressly 
intrusted to Congress by the Constitution. 

It is true that the profession of submission to the authority of 
the State in this matter was accompanied by the explanation 
that such submission would be given only because there could be 
no successful resistance to the tyranny. But, even with this 
qualification, the acknowledgment of the authority of the State 
was remarkable from such a quarter. 

The next day Mr. Petigru received the following letter from 
Alfred Huger, Postmaster of Charleston since 1839. 


Octobers, 1861. 
My dear Petigru: 

All that concerns you enters into my mind as tho' the issue 
was with myself, and whenever it is otherwise I shall have lost 
what has sometimes made me acceptable to the virtuous and the 

I was, as you well know, born under the rule of impulse and of 
instinct, and so, following my own nature, we have differed about 
the "necessity" of this unhappy revolution, and it is impossible 
for me to retrace those steps which developments of each suc- 
ceeding day seem to justify. I would gladly have died to save 
the Union, but God has decreed that we were not worthy of a 
great [end?] and I must say, I hold the North to be responsible, 
as the instruments of its dissolution. Beyond this I am with 
you, and will stand with you, or fall with you. The miserable 
idea of suppressing truth in the name of public opinion is no less 
Jacobinical on this side of the Atlantic than it has been on the 
other; and Heaven has provided men like yourself to resist such 
aggression wherever and whenever it appears; the defense of the 

James Louis Petigru 401 

weak and the absent is your peculiar province; mine is to look 
on with admiration at the head; so quick to perceive what is 
unjust; and at the heart which is so invincible in standing up 
against it. 

I thank God for the opportunity which has bound me to you 
for more than fifty years; and I thank him more for the convic- 
tion that it will be brighter and brighter, as I shall become 
capable of appreciating what is elevated and generous in this 
world, causing a purer hopefulness of what awaits us in the 
next. Faithfully and affectionately yours, 

Alfred Huger. 

Dinner will be at our house for you always. My wife is not 

On October 15 Mr. Petigru delivered his argument. His 
clients were Major Rawlins Lowndes, William Lowndes, and 
Mrs. Abraham Van Buren, of New York, who was the daughter 
of Colonel John Singleton, of Wateree, S. C; the funds of the 
Mount Vernon Association, in the hands of Miss A. Parmelee 
Cunningham, and some colored people of Philadelphia who were 
beneficiaries of the estate of Mrs. Kohn. The presiding judge 
was the Hon. A. G. Magrath, who had been a law student under 
Mr. Petigru, for whom he had the greatest regard. 

Mr. Petigru opened his argument by stating that his demur- 
rer would be sustained by him upon two grounds: 

First. The Writ of Garnishment, as it is called, is illegal 
and unwarranted. Secondly, that the purpose of the Writ, 
which is the confiscation of enemies' debts, is not within the 
competency of the Confederate Government. 

No man has the right to put a free man upon his oath, — to 
purge his conscience, by compelling a solemn appeal to Heaven 
but according to law; and the law gives that authority only in a 
judicial proceeding to testify as a witness; to answer to matters 
charged against him; to obey the call of the Sovereign by taking 
the oath of allegiance, or the oath of office. The oath of office, 
the oath of allegiance, the obligation of testifying to the truth in 
a Court of Justice between parties litigant are acknowledged. 
We were never famous for opposition to authority. No person 
was more ready to render to Caesar all that Caesar had a decent 
pretext to demand. But obedience to this Writ which requires a 
general discovery of alien enemies, and all the information in 
the power of the party summoned for the purpose of discovering 
what property of alien enemies may be come at, I deny and refuse 
to answer. And the reason of this refusal is simple, although it 

402 Life, Letters and Speeches 

seems to surprise some, but as St. Paul says, I was born free and 
will not forfeit that freedom which I inherit from my free mother. 
I will not submit to be commanded where there is no right to 

The Clerk of the District Court of the Confederate States has 
issued a writ commanding the person to whom it is addressed 
to appear in Court and answer all such questions as shall be put 
to him respecting alien enemies. He that does not cherish the 
rights of a free man is unworthy of his birthright. 

It is not a circular calling on the party to come forward with 
money and information, nor an advertisement offering a reward 
for discovery, but it is a command, an order from a superior 
bidding the subject to do what is mentioned. It pre-supposes or 
takes for granted that the superior from whom it emanates has 
authority to compel the party to disclose all the information in 
his power, at least, on a given subject. That subject is the con- 
fiscation of enemies' goods. To confiscate the property of ene- 
mies may be a rightful branch of sovereign power. While upon 
this point the question is not whether the law of Nations allows 
or favors confiscation. Nations have set the example of the 
practice, and rulers that have been willing to adopt it, have never 
wanted delators and traitors, spies and informers, to turn the 
grindstone for sharpening the axe of power. In discussing this 
point we leave undisturbed the complacency of them who look 
with favor upon the scenes of confiscation which have grieved 
and disgusted the wisest and best of men. Let them enjoy their 
opinion. But the subject declines obedience to this order. He 
acknowledges that it comes from a high power and the only 
reason why he disobeys is that he is a free man, and has the same 
right to withstand an inquisitorial examination that the poor 
man has to close the door of his humble shed against the foot of 

In the first place it will hardly be denied that the Government 
of the Confederacy is a Government of special and limited 
powers. Under the United States Sovereignty was the root of 
bitterness. Federalists, (and anyone who thinks it will help his 
argument may say that I was one) contended that the Federal 
and State Governments were co-ordinate authorities, and that 
they were both sovereign in their respective spheres. Perhaps 
they were wrong; perhaps there is an incompatibility in nature as 
there seems to be in language, between ideas of sovereignty and 
disability — that the idea of a partial sovereignty is a solecism. 
But that difficulty, so far as we are concerned, is set at rest by 
the Constitution of the Confederate States, which positively, 
plainly and without equivocation excludes any encroachment on 
the full and entire sovereignty of the several States. Therefore, 
what was once doubtful is now clear. Dr. Cooper's argument has 
triumphed: his visions are realized. We have a Constitution 

"James Louis Petigru 403 

which is free from ambiguity, and a government which is a mere 
agency; and shame must be the portion of him that would deny 
that the Confederate Government is confined to the powers 
expressly delegated, and that beyond those limits its acts are 
unwarranted. (See Cooper's Exposition of Nullification, 1 
Stat, of South CaroHna, 218, 221.) 

Now if this was